How full are your hands?
I’ve been thinking a lot about lately about being busy and how people sometimes proudly wear that as a badge. “I’m so busy” is often our excuse, or other times, it’s “I wish I weren’t so busy,” said in a disdainful tone. We say “yes” over and over again, and as our to-do lists fill up and our calendars become packed, our hands fill up. And because our hands are so full, we don’t have time to do the things we love.
We’ve all tried to carry too much—literally and figuratively. When we unload groceries from the car, we’ll stop at nothing to be sure we load our hands up until our fingers are bending under the weight of the filled bags. And, sometimes, when you load your hands up too much, you drop bags and things start falling out everywhere. It’s easier to measure what we can hold literally. We simply cannot hold too much or we drop what we are holding. So we are careful not to carry to0 much and when we do, our mistake is obvious as the contents of our hands come crashing to the ground.
I like the visual of the full hands for what we take on because it’s something that we can measure. When you cup your hands, you can see that there is only so much they can hold before things start falling out over the sides or the load of what you carry is simply too heavy. It’s easy to see that you can only hold so much.
I’ve filled my life with so much and it’s overflowing, in mostly good ways, but in some ways that require evaluation because my hands are FULL, wonderfully, but sometimes exasperatingly, full. I teach; I mother; I volunteer; I edit; I write. I’ve spent most of my life saying “yes” to opportunities because I felt as if it was a reflection of my strength. I thought that by doing so much and taking on so much I was demonstrating how able I really am. And so I loaded up my hands, time and time again. The things I had to carry made way for the things I didn’t.
But I’m learning that it is harder and more of a reflection of strength to realize that my hands are full. I can only hold so much and I also realize that many things must be held; certain commitments cannot be dropped. But I carry friendships that weigh me down; I volunteer for things that maybe should wait until I have more free time; I keep a very full calendar that rarely has significant wiggle room.
But from now on, I’m going to do my very best to say “My hands are full” when I can no longer hold another thing. And I’m going to look at it as a positive thing: my hands are full with all I’ve been lucky enough to gather. I’m not busy; my hands are full of things I’ve chosen to hold.
Are there things you could drop in order to make room for more of what you really love (and more of what you must hold)?