When too much of my time is usurped by obligations, I start feeling like a robot that had to rip her own heart out just to get by. I chose to teach and coach and study permaculture, all at once. I knew I was making for a busy few months. And I knew coming into this career that teaching, like most jobs, has some serious bureaucratic baggage. I’m okay with that.
It’s not that I feel like all these things I’ve chosen to do are obligations. They’re choices. And I stand by ‘em.
It’s that sometimes others pressure me into doing things I really do not want to do and, frankly, shouldn’t have to. Or, maybe, the real problem is when I lack the spine required to say no to these requests. This week I realized I had been assigned an arduous and meaningless task with an impossible deadline that will no doubt hurt my ability to do what actually matters to my life’s work. I want to be able to say yes to everything and everyone. I want to meet impossible deadlines and make no excuses. But I’ve already filled my life to brim with what matters to me, and it seems like by failing to say no to one hefty request, all of what matters suddenly took a back seat.
Like my sitting practice.
It feels good to say yes when others want me to do something, but if I’m only doing it because others want me to, then I’m relinquishing my power in the process. Not to mention—resentment for whomever I perceive to have roped me into the whole mess will most likely creep up and hinder my ability to act with compassion.
I’m learning that as important as it is to recognize when opportunity is knocking at the door, it’s equally important to discern whether a given opportunity will invite me out beyond my comfort zone towards growth, or simply invite itself in to interfere with the things I hold most dear. A huge part of this practice, it seems, is the constant negotiations we make with life to ensure a certain amount of time is always reserved for just sitting and observing. It takes devotion to come back to the cushion each day, and discipline to fend off whatever might get in the way.