Last week a close friend invited me to her house for a lovely meal and some much-needed conversation. As is our custom, we discuss our kids, our extended families, our work, and the current state of affairs worldwide…and we generally offer recommendations (on food/books/travel/life.)
The topic of today’s post comes directly from my friend’s recommendation to read this book, Bittersweet, by Shauna Niequist.
Love Niequist’s subtitle for Bittersweet: Thoughts on change, grace, and learning the hard way. (That last bit…learning the hard way? that’s me.) Every time.
Like every other woman I know past 40…I’m trying to figure out how to make the life adjustment between all things parenting and kids to life without kids at the center of my life (and my time.)
It’s harder than it looks!
Which is why I so resonated with Niequist’s chapter titled, “Things I Don’t Do.”
Here’s some of the good stuff—
It’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What’s hard, is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.
Like this author, I am a chronic list maker…and please (for your own safety’s sake) don’t get in my way until I’ve ticked off every item on my to-do list for the day. Just so you know, this is one of those habits I’m still trying to break away from…
Niequist writes about her penchant for making lists that range from the mundane to the far-reaching. And here’s where her words hit home.
At one point, I kept adding to the list, more and more items, more and more sweeping in their scope, until I added this line: DO EVERYTHING BETTER. It was, at this time, a pretty appropriate way to capture how I felt about my life and myself fairly often. It also explains why I tended to get so tired I’d cry without knowing why, why my life sometimes felt like I was running on a hamster wheel, and why I searched the faces of calmer, more grounded women for a secret they all knew that I didn’t. This is how I got to that fragmented, brittle, lonely place: DO EVERYTHING BETTER.
Each of the three words has a particular flavor of poison all its own. Do: we know better than do, of course. We know that words like “be,” and “become,” and “try,” are a little less crushing and cruel, spiritually and psychologically, a little friendlier to the soul. But when we’re alone sometimes and the list is getting the best of us, we abandon all those sweet ideas, and we go straight to do, because do is power, push, aggression, plain old sweaty equity. It’s not pretty, but we know that do gets the job done.
Everything is just a killer. Everything is the heart of the conversation for me, my drug of choice. For me, everything becomes a lifestyle. Everything is an addiction.
And then better. Better is a seductress. It’s so delicious to run after better, better, better. Better is a force.
The three together, DO EVERYTHING BETTER, are a super-charged triple threat, capturing in three words the mania of modern life, the anti-spirit, anti-spiritual, soul-shriveling garbage that infects and compromises our lives.
The grandest seduction of all is the myth that DOING EVERYTHING BETTER gets us where we want to be. It gets us somewhere, certainly, but not anywhere worth being.