As I mentioned in my last post I enjoyed this past Sunday very, very much. The next couple of days were very low for me. Uncomfortably so. I don't communicate when I feel like that. Who wants to hear whines or read, what would, in the real world, be a tear stained note?!Once I climbed back out of the abyss I began to think about my day of blissful pleasure and I began to try and figure out what made it special - or different. How did I get to that place that allowed me to enjoy a day of 'nothing special'?
I had a few moments of discomfort at the beginning of that day - all of the things that I "should" be doing were staring me in the face. I kept thinking that I needed to produce something creative or, at the very least,clean something un-creatively! I finally decided that perhaps what I was supposed to do, however, was nothing - to appreciate the simple joy of accepting the gift of a day with only myself to please and nothing that 'had' to be done beyond that. It was difficult to go along with at first! I have given it more thought as this week has progressed & I have decided that perhaps one of the reasons that days seemed to last longer when I was younger is that I accepted no stress back then over the "have to do's", "should do's". My expectation for a day off was, simply, to have fun. To relax & enjoy whatever was - or was not- happening. Are we then, responsible, at least to some degree, for much of stress over what we think we don't have time to do? Can we achieve more relaxation by turning off the "should" meter now and again? Learning to move beyond the temporary discomfort that allowing ourselves to do that may bring?
Certainly as we get older we do have more responsibilities - of so many different descriptions. Money always stresses us more, for some reason, when we get older. Some how living within our means was also easier to do when we were younger and had no real notion of the things we should "want' or 'need '. Living life - at that time - was just being learned & expectations were fewer I guess. I do remember that I was VERY happy with my quality of life, albeit that I lived a very low paying job paycheck to paycheck existence then.
I recall a program that I watched recently - the subject of which was being satisfied with the quality of life. The residents of a Nordic country were being interviewed (I seem to remember Finland - but that might be wrong too). One comment has really stuck in my mind and that was that they (or this person speaking for the greater "they") was happy because they had fewer expectations of life. They were satisfied with their quality of life because they had no real, stress producing, concerns. Their basic needs were taken care of by the state - health care, subsidized housing etc. Their country has a large middle class, thin lowest class & smaller high class than we have here in the States. There was none of the "keeping-up-with the-Jones" that seems so prevalent here. The word that caught me was "expectations". It really does seem that we can get hung up on those - expectations that is - we 'expect' to be able to buy something even if we have to charge it in order to have it - and then getting the bill (because we charged it)brings more stress because we can't pay it off the way we know we should.... and on it goes. We expect that our job should pay us well enough to be able to afford the rent or mortgage that we must spend, but so few jobs seem to really afford that luxury that anymore. We expect to be able to make the lives for our children better than ours has been - and we can no longer afford to make that a reality either.
My brief encounter with the pleasures of a "mid twenties kind of relaxed day" has really gotten me thinking about pleasure & stress. What do you think is the key? What really comes first a desire or an expectation? Are they just the same thing - dufferent word?
My friend, Lauren, wrote to tell me that she knew I was depressed because I hadn't posted since Sunday - she knows me better than I know myself at times - and I was depressed. Now I am just thoughtful about the pursuit of happiness - isn't that what we all really want the most?