Thursday, July 19, 2012

Being Human...

As I was tackling my lists and crossing things off, something became abundantly clear... I'm only human.

It's a fact that I'm reminded of from time to time.  Sometimes the reminder takes the form of a fall in the subway or getting cancer, but this one was more subtle.

The reminder came at dawn one morning.  I had just put in a full day at work and came home to full day there.  I stayed up late, working on things until I couldn't possibly do more.  I kept pushing myself a little further.  Finally, I looked in the mirror and there were two dark lines underscoring my eyes.  I ignored it and went to bed.  I thought that I could get two hours in and be fresh as a daisy the next (or rather... later... that) day.

When I groggily pulled myself from bed, my body was sore and achy.  I was still tired and the deep lines on my face only looked deeper.  It's those little moments, as the early morning light pours through the windows and on to your face that things become clear.  These were the consequences.  I'm not 19 years old anymore, pulling all-nighters.  I have limits to what I can do.

Even though my desire to achieve things is certainly great, I have to realize and remember that I'm only human.  I can only do so much.  As much as I would like to toss the entire bag of pebbles into the proverbial lake, they must be done one at a time.  The journey has to be taken one human step at a time.


Barbara Lewis said...

A great message to all of us, Andrew. Thanks!

Andrew Thornton said...

Hey Barbara! Settling into the idea that I'm only human and can only do so much was a liberating experience. Instead of feeling guilt over what I wasn't able to do, I was able to launch fully into what I was able to do. It was a powerful switch that flicked in my brain.

VanBeads said...

I used to be one of those super-human-wanna-achieve-everything kinda people, and then I had a baby. Wow. Does that every give you a good idea of what your limitations are! Suddenly, 99% of my energy went towards caring for this precious little guy, and everything else, no matter how important it seemed previously, got put on hold. (The other 1% of my energy went towards eating and trying to get some decent rest.)

Now that I've re-entered the workforce as a full-time employee, it seems even more difficult to maintain that balance. I need to remind myself that (as long as I meet my deadlines), there's always tomorrow to wrap up any loose ends.

Last summer, I became catastrophically ill, and suddenly, everything was thrown into perspective once again. I had to learn not to push myself too hard, because if I made myself sick all over again, I was worthless to my son and my husband. I couldn't do my job, which I love more than any job I've ever had before.

I read a lot about women who Can't Have It All, and I understand that. You have to make your choices, because realistically, unless you're fabulously wealthy and can afford to have someone clean your house and walk your dogs and you have live-in child care, something, somewhere, has to give. For us, we usually let the housecleaning go until it reaches critical stage - not always a smart thing to do, but when both parents are working full time, and we have precious little time on the weekends to do fun family stuff like hiking or canoeing or visiting with friends, that's what comes first. The dishes, the laundry, the dirty floors - they'll always be there.

Whew. Sorry about the novel here. But I just wanted to let you know that I totally understand where you're coming from!

Andrew Thornton said...

Hey Jennifer!

I definitely think that the big things, such as having a baby or facing illness really put things in perspective. When I was dealing with my own illness, I had to think about my body in a wholly different way.

I'm often times reminded of that feminist essay, "I want a wife" by Judy Brady. For me though the title of my essay would be, "I want a free personal assistant not afraid of cleaning". I sometimes imagine how wonderful it would be to just be left to my own creative juices without having to worry about making dinner or doing laundry. So I can sympathize, totally.

And I'm glad that you know what I mean!

Bead-Mused said...

Andrew it can definitely be earth-shaking when we realize we're not 19 anymore. Oh, can I relate to that. But equally earth-shaking is learning that we aren't super-human, just merely human. *sigh* It's time to put away the cape and take things one step at a time.