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Writing about what really matters

Tag: survival value

Just a little different


If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be. –Maya Angelou

Here’s a SoulCollage card I made this week to represent being just a little different, something I’m being reminded lately that not everyone appreciates.

When I came across the full-page image of a streetful of sheep awhile ago, I knew I’d hit SoulCollage gold, and have just been waiting for the right image to put with it. When a new O Magazine with a portrait of a wide-eyed baby zebra arrived, I knew I’d found it.

Growing up fundamentalist, I was provided with lots of opportunities to be different. No TV, so no idea what the Dukes of Hazzard or Starsky & Hutch got up to last night. The ever-present skirts and Little House on the Prairie long braided hair certainly stood out as well. I minded perhaps as little as anyone could; my younger sister deeply resented having her ability to conform taken away from her. It would be very fair to say that my elementary and junior high school classmates tended not to appreciate differences. I wasn’t sure why–other than, you know, survival value–one would want to blend in.

When I majored in English in college, I took a survey of Victorian literature, and came across another view of being different. I think it was John Stuart Mill’s. The idea was that simply being different was a public service, lighting the way for others by demonstrating that it’s perfectly possible to strike out on your own, rather than follow the crowd.

Wow–I wasn’t just an oddball, I was performing a public service! I latched onto this view and have never let it go.

If you are, like me, just a little different, John and I raise our glasses to you, and thank you for your public service.


A nap on my own personal sabbath

Obviously, it is in many people’s best interest for you not to find yourself … –Anne Lamott

Today, as I read a book on the sofa, I found that the words began to flow together. I hadn’t realized I was tired (I slept in this morning, after all, though the dogs were unwilling I should do so), but clearly I was.

So I leaned over and took a nap. For about four hours. I guess I had some sleep debt.

Of course, today is Sunday. Most afternoons I’m working, Saturday afternoons I’m generally out running errands, and the answer then to this type of problem would be a cup of coffee and some sticktoitiveness.

But today is Sunday, and so I have the luxury and the possibility of taking a nap on the sofa.

When I ordered my sofa, I test-drove those in the showroom to determine the exact length I needed to be able to stretch out and nap comfortably, and then I ordered it (about 7 feet as I recall, including pillows and arms). I feel it is essential for a sofa to be nappable.

The dogs feel an afternoon nap (unlike sleeping in once or twice on the weekends, thus totally interfering with their plans to eat breakfast as soon as possible) is utterly reasonable. It is, in fact, what they like and prefer to do themselves in the afternoon. So I was blissfully undisturbed for four hours of Sunday afternoon naptime.

When I was growing up, both Sunday naptime and keeping the Sabbath were strictly enforced. I remember being ratted out once for reading a non-religious themed Reader’s Digest condensed book (desperate times …) during a wakeful Sunday ‘nap’ with most unpleasant consequences.

Of course I recognize the survival value of learning to follow rules that seem arbitrary and nonsensical. I’ll never forget what a friend told her son, who complained bitterly of the dumb people in charge at school, who were making all kinds of stupid rules.

That’s excellent, she told him … excellent preparation for the real world. You won’t believe the number of dumb people making stupid rules that you’ll run into there!

Lately I have returned to keeping my own kind of sabbath. But this time, with the delicious privilege of adulthood, in my world, on this day, I make all the rules.

There are only three.

  1. I have to do nothing I don’t want to; I must deal with basic necessities only, like food. This means there is no to-do list for a Sunday, unless I’ve planned so many fun things that I think I might not remember them all–then I can write them down.
  2. Otherwise, the agenda is to do what I would most like to do, given other constraints (i.e., the budget may not, in fact definitely won’t, allow for an emergency trip to Paris).
  3. At some point, I write on Sundays. I write on other days as well, but I definitely and always write on Sunday.

Recently my sabbath rules helped me decide whether I should accept a volunteer position that would have been a considerable expansion of what I was already doing.

When my current assignment required me to say yes to a completely unnecessary Sunday meeting that epitomized everything I didn’t want to be doing, I realized that saying yes to the further assignment could and very likely would lead to many more like it. So I said no to the flattering offer. It wasn’t important work, and it wasn’t consistent with how I want to spend my free time.

I quite like having my own personal sabbath, and recommend it to anyone. And if it seems like a big step, you could always start with just a nap.

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