“I often think I have not yet been ill enough to know how to live. I still evaluate choices in terms of what counts on my resume, instead of asking whether I am producing something I think is valuable and if I am meeting people’s needs rather than fulfilling the demands of some system” (Frank, 1991, p. 119)
I find the reflection of Arthur Frank to be rather interesting, as I find myself constantly asking the question “is this what I want to be doing with my time?” I do find that I think occasionally about my resume, but not as much as I used to. I’m less focused on collecting conference presentations or publications. I think more about whether or not fundamentally I’m doing what I want to be doing.
I recently cancelled a conference presentation and trip. I had originally thought I wanted to do it, but after my last trip I realized that it wasn’t how I wanted to be spending my time. I want to focus on doing things that make my body strong and feel well. I hate not feeling well – and spending too much time travelling to conferences isn’t making my body well.
Part of what helps ground me, and keeps me from falling into the traps of the resume building world is the time I spend with my friend Lori. She has metastatic breast cancer – that means her cancer will kill her. The only thing keeping her alive is chemotherapy. We spend time together hiking. We explore trails in the area, seeking out paths through trees and views of the valley. During out walks we talk about pretty much everything and anything. We reflect on life, often retelling the same stories over and over. In many ways, it doesn’t matter what the conversations are about, more that they are conversations that allow us to keep walking – and that walking helps keep our bodies strong. Walking with her reminds me to value my days and to keep living. Our time is precious.
In addition to hiking, I’m looking into some gentle yoga classes. About 20 years ago I did yoga fitness classes, and on our world tour bike trip, my hubby and I had a morning yoga routine. We did daily yoga at Commonweal, but that was much more about meditation and less about stretching and balance. What I need now are routines that help me stretch, balance, and strengthen.
I am finding myself back into the position of trying to do too many things, such that I cannot seem to get to any of them. I want to be biking more often, and swimming more often, and hiking more often, and then adding in yoga on top of all of that. Mostly, I could use a little encouragement to actually get there. To get too that yoga class … if I go to the one at my gym I can combine it with a swim. I’ve added it to my calendar, so we’ll see if that helps make it actually happen.
The other big goal I’ve set for myself is to get my dissertation done by the end of the calendar year. If I cannot finish by December, I’ll need to apply for another extension to my program. I do not expect any problems with getting an extension, but really, I don’t want to need to be doing it. I’d like to get it done so that I can move on to the next phase – whatever that may be. I’m enjoying my time doing my dissertation work, but I’m also feeling like I need to start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
And so, as I read, At the will of the body, I find myself reflecting on the choices I’m making about how I spend my time, and feeling like I am making choices that I feel are valuable to me.
Frank, A. (1991). At the will of the body: Reflections on illness. New York: Mariner Books.