Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Excuse me!

I got an e-mail from a reader yesterday saying that she never realized that other people felt guilty for resenting the constraints imposed by being a responsible member of society. This precious friend worries that she doesn’t do enough for others. Nevermind that she is a teacher and caregiver for her ninety year old father and one of the nicest people imaginable.

Heck yeah we all feel guilty...well maybe just most of us. Guilty for just not wanting to do that today, and feeling pretty terrible if we don’t. I suspect that may be part of what keeps us civilized.

When I was in junior high school, I established a kind of unspoken pact with Mama that I could play hooky from school a couple of times a year. In the beginning, she just didn’t question me too carefully if I said I didn’t feel well, and was kind of oblivious to my reading a hefty novel cover to cover while I was laid up. By my junior year, I stayed home one whole day to sew an antebellum ball gown to wear to school to celebrate the Bi-Centennial of the Civil War with her knowledge and consent. I felt like Scarlett herself on Fridays that year.

By the time I was in college, I played a little too loosely with giving myself a pass to skip my seven a.m. Chemistry class, and I damn near failed it. Same with Tap Dancing, only at four p.m. on Fridays for goodness sake!

During the years I was rearing four children with a part time husband, I worked just enough to pay for child care at least once a week so I could go volunteer taking care of other people's children. I don’t think I’ve ever been without some sort of hobby or interest that seemed to excuse my not doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

I have now given myself a lifetime pass from strenuous exercise. I just read an article that said risk of death among older people is directly proportional to the degree of stressors during exercise. In that same article, a number of other stressors were also implicated. I plan to avoid them all. My children won’t be happy to read this, and I can’t seem to find it, but I assure you it was a well documented study.

Everybody needs a pass now and then. A pass to read a book or browse through a shop looking at thing you can’t afford. A pass to pick up fast food and park your kids in front of the television so you can visit with a friend. A pass to play Cube Crasher instead of doing the ironing. A pass to get the burger instead of the salad. A pass to just be.

I hope I understand when people just need a pass. I hope they’ll understand me.


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