I am so frustrated. I just want to sit down and cry for a few hours. I suppose I shouldn't really complain (much less cry), since what is frustrating me is a surfeit of positive choices ... but I'm frustrated all the same. I don't know what to do. I'm going to have to give up something, but I don't want to give up anything--except for the one thing I'm not allowed to give up. For the first time in my adult life, I have the stability and the income to pursue some things, and I hate that there aren't enough hours in the day to do them all.
So ... I'm going to share with you, my vast blogging audience (ha!), an account of my "activities"--the daily things that take up my time. And with each, I'll give a bit of background so you'll have some idea how important different things are to me. Maybe you, my objective readers, will see something I can't. I'm open to advice and suggestions.
1. Piano--If you've read this blog for any length of time, then you know that piano is important to me. Yes, I guess piano is just a "hobby" ... but at the same time, if I may be so bold, I'm ... um ... really good at it. Whew. There. I said it. I have been blessed with musical talent, more so than a lot of people. In fact, Deborah introduced me to people last week as "the most talented student I've ever taught." It was humbling, but at the same time, it made me wonder if, all these years, I haven't been giving myself enough credit (ah, the curse of low self-esteem!). Because I do have some natural talent. So ... while I love piano and all, part of me feels like I need to practice, that I need to nurture this talent. It's like a seed in me that longs to grow and flourish. So piano isn't something I can give up.
2. Music Theory/Composition--OK. I think of myself as a composer more than I think of myself as a pianist, which is weird because I'm much better and more experienced at piano than at composing. But I think that's only because my "talent seed" of piano has been nurtured a lot longer than the one for composing. But I know that seed is there, and I think it has the potential to grow even more than the piano one has. It's almost like I have a mission to compose. So I don't feel like I should neglect composition either--particularly now that I'm studying one-on-one with a talented theory teacher with whom I have a good rapport.
3. Writing--I'm blessed. I've been blessed with a talent for writing, too. Writing is the "seed" that has received the most attention and nourishment over the years. And it's the path I've chosen for a career, even though technical writing (and even hiking-guidebook-writing) isn't the type of writing I thing I was ultimately meant to do. As far as writing, my strengths are (1) essays and (2) stories. Of those two, I have more experience writing essays, but I have more fun writing stories. They come naturally to me. I have this wonderful imagination, and I feel like it's been stifled for a long, long time--by busy-ness, by depression, by stress, by insecurity (low self-esteem again!), by many things. But, as with piano and composition, I don't believe it is something I should neglect. Because I've been given a talent--and I should sow those seeds. Particularly since I started this novel. I feel like the novel is another "mission."
4. Precepts--I've mentioned Precepts on this blog but haven't gone into great detail, partly for fear of scaring people off. Precepts is a Bible Study, a very in-depth Bible Study, designed by Kay Arthur. Every Thursday night, I meet with a group from the First Presbyterian Church to discuss some aspect of the book of 1 John. The study is a 12-week study of 1 John. If you're at all familiar with the Bible, then you know that 1 John is a teeny-tiny little book. 12 weeks is a lot of time for a teeny-tiny little book. But the study actually requires a good 5-6 hours per week of study (in addition to Thursday night meetings). "Study" includes looking up cross-references, studying the Greek translations and various verb forms, learning the context of things, journaling, "soul-searching," etc. It's very involved. And it appeals mightily to my need for intellectual stimulation. Plus, I'm searching for my own answers, spiritually. So I don't feel like Precepts is something I can let go of. Because this is important. The next study is going to be Genesis, and I don't want to miss that, either.
5. Church--As I said, I'm looking for answers. And, after a journey from Christianity to atheism to agnosticism to a floaty Waterfallish New-Agey pantheism to something like I-don't-know-what-theism (remember, my worldview is quite scrambled), I'm trying to figure things out. I found a church with nice people and (usually) good music. So I'm participating in that and even working with kids on Sunday evenings (it feels good to be doing something positive for others). I'm getting a lot out of it, for the most part, but it does take time as well. But I can't take that out of my life.
6. Poetry--This is only every other Tuesday night for a few hours. It's like a night of fine wine after drinking water for the other six nights. I enjoy the people, the discussion, the fact that I leave the group deep in thought--and stay there for a few hours or days after it's over. I can't give poetry up.
7. Exercise--This has, unfortunately, been on the back burner. I haven't ballooned (as I feared I would if I quit exercising), but I'm definitely jiggling a WHOLE lot more than I did a year ago. Plus, I constantly feel sluggish. I need to get back into my workout routine. I have this wonderful, healthy, functioning physical body, and I hate to think that I'm not doing everything I can to keep it that way. By working out now, I can help prevent osteoporosis down the road. But these days, I'm lucky if I make it to the gym twice a week.
8. Marriage--Dan and I both need to work on this. We get along wonderfully and are still as madly in love as we ever were, but we don't see each other enough. He works so much (lots of nights and weekends), so I've gotten accustomed to "doing my own thing." So, on the rare nights that he doesn't have to work, I end up being busy with something else. Not good.
9. Friends--I've been so out of touch with my friends. This is OK, for the most part; I'm very much an introvert and don't want or need much time for socializing. But I do have certain good friends--Karen, Amypowe, Tina, Janie and Randy, etc.--that I've all but lost touch with, and that's not good.
10. Hiking/Walking--This is sort of under the umbrella of working out, I guess. Since 1993, I've walked an average (probably) of 4-5 miles per day. My sanity depends on it. Once upon a time, I hiked all the time. Now that I live in western North Carolina, I'm lucky if I get out to the trails--or even my neighborhood for a walk--once a month. It's just that by the time Saturday rolls around, I'm so exhausted from the previous week that the thought of getting in the car to go walk 5 or 10 miles is simply overwhelming. But I do figure I'll satisfy my hiking needs on the PCT in '06.
11. Reading--I love to read. There are few things I love more than reading. It's my ideal pastime. And the only time I ever save for reading are the five or ten minutes at night before I nod off to sleep. Which means I never remember much of what I read.
12. Work--Ah, yes. This is the one thing that I would gladly give up, yet it's the one thing I cannot give up. This job--this uninteresting, unchallenging, unfriendly, maddeningly stable job--is what provides me the money and stability to pursue all of these other things. Along with work is the commute, which takes up 1.5 to 2 hours of every day. I do make the most of the commute with Teaching Company lectures, but I sure would prefer to read, or write, or do something else other than drive. I think--I know--I'd rather be an English instructor at the local community college, but (1) no jobs are available right now, and (2) I wouldn't make nearly as much money. And the money we're making now is all going into a piggy bank (figuratively speaking) so that we can afford to thru-hike the PCT in 2006 AND take a few months afterwards to readjust to civilization, find jobs (which will finance the next hike), move if necessary, etc. We live on a shoestring now, even though we could afford to live a bit more "luxuriously," but it's all because we're saving money for the big hike.
So, I have a lot of stuff to fit into each day. I didn't even include cleaning house, making dinner, shopping for food, washing the car, washing clothes, writing my monthly hiking article (ack! dealine next week!), journaling, etc. Sometimes I fit those things in. Sometimes I don't.
But lately, though, it seems like I don't have time for anything. I just don't know which things to cut out of my life. Or even to cut back on. The only thing I would willingly give up is the job/commute, but the job is the center of the wheel. Without it, the center would not hold.
I'm just rambling. It's late, and I'm very, very tired. Good night.