223: Juggling

One of the annoying things about being grownup is that you must learn to juggle. It is only one of the annoying things about being a grownup, but it is one of the most difficult parts of being grown up to master. By juggle, I do not mean actual juggling, the sort done in entertainment acts by people who juggle balls, flaming torches or swords. By juggling, I mean managing all the disparate parts of your life and all the attendant responsibilities that go with each sphere of your influence (I mentioned balls again, didn’t I?).

Most adults have several spheres of influence: their personal lives, their family lives (not the same thing), their spiritual lives, their work lives, perhaps their school lives, and lastly, their social lives. Did I forget any? Each of these spheres sometimes overlap others, but generally, we have different responsibilities for each one of them. I must bathe and care for myself and this body I live in, including periodic visits to medical professionals for checkups and repair. I also handle some of that for my family, too, at least while my children were little, until they matured enough to begin assuming that responsibility for themselves. There are also other family obligations, everything from Sunday dinner at mom’s, to which family member we will celebrate Thanksgiving with this year, to burial arrangements for my husband’s father. Then there are the spiritual and social responsibilities that go along with my faith and my church family, too – missions, offerings and gifts of materials and time, prayer and scripture study, and more. Then there is the sphere of work: not only the actual work part, but the social atmosphere and culture of work. Work would be enough all by itself without all that other crap, but there it is….some people don’t have enough of a life of their own, and must try to create their entire lives around their work, and get everyone at work to socialize as if we actually were a family and everybody liked everybody else, and not as if we were just thrown together by circumstance, which is actually a lot closer to the truth. Sheesh. And then, there are those of us who are enrolled in school, each of them with another culture and social obligations, not to mention the class work and due dates. Lastly, there is the social life – the recreation time we take with the people we actually like and WANT to spend time with, not the ones we are obligated to socialize with in the other spheres. THAT is the juggling act I am talking about; managing to keep all of these separate spheres of our influence in the air and functioning (at least to some degree) all at the same time.

Sometimes I manage that act pretty well, and then, at other times, one or more of these spheres hits the ground with a sickening thud as I “drop the ball.” This usually happens because another sphere is taking up far more time and energy that it deserves.

Here lately, I have had several spheres drop. Wobble, wobble, drop it like it’s hot, drop is what I am talking about. Drop and SPLAT. Spilled milk drop – no recovery possible. You know what, though? Life DOES go on….even if my grip is not too good these days!


80: Rights and Responsibilities

We have a fight going on all of our lives: the fight between our rights and our responsibilities.

When we are born, we have few responsibilities. Mom and dad, our loving caretakers, handle all that stuff on our behalf. They provide housing (a huge expense), our clothing (ditto), our medical care (twice times ditto), our food (you get the picture). They even clean us. They also provide our entertainment and toys,all of our wants and needs. Well, our needs, anyway – even if not ALL of our wants.

Then, as we get older, we are expected to begin handling our own care. We are taught to brush our hair, brush and clean our teeth, eat nutritious meals (with VEGETABLES  :-(), pick up and put away our toys, be nice to other children when we play, and share. We are taught the word NO, and what that means. We are taught  not to hit others, even if we get mad and angry. We are taught to use the toilet, instead of our diaper. We are taught to wash our hands (I hope), and to take a bath to clean ourselves. We are supposed to clean our room. This process takes time, and we don’t learn all this right away. We need reminders, often! Our parents and older siblings help teach us to do these things for ourselves. These responsibilities usually result in new rights and privileges for us, and we show that we can be responsible persons.

Then, we get a little older, and there are more responsibilities. We start school. Suddenly, there are LOTS of new responsibilities: behavior and work in class and at home. There are rules to be obeyed, and we make friends, who have their own expectations of us. We learn more about what is right behavior, and what is wrong. We are expected to think, be honest and do our work to the best of our ability. We also gain new privileges: we can stay up later: visit friends outside the home, have sleepovers, and do more things than we used to be allowed to do. Soon, as the end of our schooling gets near, we gain the right to drive a car. That right comes with a host of new responsibilities: care of the vehicle, obedience to traffic signs, laws and officers. We must use our judgment and critical thinking skills to make the right, and best, decisions.  But what new freedoms we have! We can date, and attend parties, and do other things which have the potential to cause us great harm, if we are not sensible and careful, paying attention to our responsibilities.

Then we depart for college, and mom and dad’s influence is lessened a LOT, and we have the ability to decide many new things for ourselves: what time to get up and go to bed, what to eat, how to care for yourself and your laundry and your room and your vehicle.  If you ignore your responsibilities, you won’t do well. You can ruin your life, and actually cause your own death, as some do when they forget that life is precious, valuable, and must be cared for and protected.

Then you choose a mate and marry, and start a job and a family of your own. You just THOUGHT you had responsibilities BEFORE!! Now your whole life is ruled by them, even though you also have more freedoms than you ever did before, at the same time. You choose where to live, you choose how to deal with disagreements at work and at home. You craft your life in between your rights and your responsibilities.

When your children grow and leave home to begin their own lives, you can relax from the responsibilities a little, and begin to truly enjoy your rights and freedoms. You have earned them! As you continue to age, however, you discover that your freedoms begin to curtail as life begins to slow down for you, at least physically. As you age to the point that you cannot competently care for yourself, you find that your rights begin to diminish as you surrender to the care of others. At the end of your days, unless God claims you earlier, you will find yourself back at the beginning – cared for by others as you move towards death, your final surrender.

This is the cycle of life – a struggle between rights and responsibilities from beginning to end. How you handle that balance determines how satisfied you will be with what you lived and accomplished. Good luck – and be wise!