Today’s post is three days late because I first practiced today’s topic before putting it to paper or rather, posting it to cyberspace. I had read Judith O’Reilly’s book about doing 365 good deeds, one per day, over the course of a year and the overwhelming theme is that it is hard to do what should come naturally to us.
Of particular interest to me was her point that people do not always appreciate our goodness. More on that later, I promise. Sometimes we do need to think of doing good for ourselves and so, I decided to follow the advice of many and unwind. That’s right – turned off the electronic devices, well most. The television stayed on although it also was turned off for long periods of time. I decided to go thirty-six hours rather than simply twenty-four because really, counting time when one is sleeping and eating really shouldn’t count, should it?
I thought I was taking time to simply be me and to let the world carry on without me. What I discovered was that I had more time to do good things. It is amazing the amount of time it can take to check one’s messages. I’m not talking about reading them, just simply check them. You know what I mean, see how many emails are work-related and how many are from friends or family. Reading one’s text messages can also be rather time-consuming. Tweets are limited to one hundred and forty characters but reading the amount one received in a day can be paramount to reading several chapters of a book or a novella.
I had not planned to clean out a closet while “unwinding” but…well, it was there and for once, I really had nothing else to do. Found treasures brought a smile to my face and then I remembered someone to drop a card to that had lost a pet. I dropped by the library because unwinding to me involves reading and walked into the end of a magic show, part of the summer reading program. A mother was trying to usher her brood away from the video section and I picked up a dropped toy. Seeing a dog on one of my book covers, her son and I struck up a conversation, all the while walking towards the door. We continued talking as we went outside and I found myself holding hands as we crossed the parking lot with both her son and a daughter. The mother’s thanks for helping get her four children to the car and for reminding the son to always ask his parents before talking to strangers made me aware that without thinking, a good deed had happened.
I firmly believe that it is in human nature to be of assistance and do good things. All too often, though, we get too busy. We could probably write our own book about how busy do we really need to be and why it is that busyness overtakes goodness. The important thing, though, is to realize it happens. Taking a day or so to unwind allows one the space and energy to connect with that part of us that likes goodness.
Some of Judith O’Reilly’s good deeds were very simple. She dropped someone a letter of condolence that had recently lost a spouse/partner. She invited another friend to lunch. As the Queen of England passed by the queue in which she was standing, Judith handed her a posy of flowers.
We can’t all attend an appearance of the Queen perhaps but we can share a meal with a friend. During my period of unwinding, I invited a friend to meet me and another friend at a local farmer’s market and then go out to breakfast. It was delightfully relaxing and refreshing. We solved no problems, cured no great ills, and yet, I felt cured of the doldrums of daily living.
There are great responsibilities we all share and will always be chores to do and tasks to complete. Taking time to unwind seems like a wee bit selfish and yet, when we do, we find more time for others. I confess I was not certain tuning out and turning off was going to be extraordinary. It became a vacation and gift. Hopefully you can try it and see. After all, you are worth it and so is everyone who will benefit.