all of the selves we Have ever been
I’ve joined a resistance movement.
It has nothing to do with politics or espionage. We won’t be storming capitol buildings, carrying protest signs, recovering from nerve gas, or contacting our supporters from prison. Though there are a lot of us in the movement, we don’t stage large group protests or carry out subterfuge under the cover of darkness. We go to bed way too early for that.
On the surface, this seems like a benign movement because it is primarily championed by older adults and preschoolers, two groups often subject to condescension. “Keep things simple” is the group’s philosophy. Each group member is committed to doing only one thing at a time in a won’t-be-rushed fashion. The membership has adopted “I did it my way” as its motto. Under duress, we are known to collapse to the floor and refuse to move.
Volumes have been written about how to break this type of resistance. There are several fields devoted to curbing the anarchy, and the self-help industry has grown rich pumping out books and motivational speakers to make us all highly effective and more productive while squashing the aforementioned instincts of the resistance movement.
I admit it—I bought into all of the official literature, the self-help books, and the chorus of influencers. When my children were young (and I was much younger too), doing many things at once was the rule. For example, a typical after work, after school, after sports games and practices, and after after-school orthodontist appointments, a relaxing evening routine might begin with laundry. While the dirty clothes agitated in the washing machine, clean clothes tumbled in the dryer. With one ear listening for the timer in order to transfer the loads and fold the dry stuff, I prepared dinner and packed lunches for the next day. The children sat nearby at the kitchen table where I helped them with homework. I checked the mail on the kitchen counter and emptied the dishwasher in preparation for the after-dinner dishes. I listened to the messages on the telephone answering machine and made to-do lists for the coming tomorrows. Watching the clock, I organized the rest of the evening’s tasks so that everything fell into place by bedtime—baths taken, school clothes ironed, sports gear packed, permission slips signed, appointments made. Check. Check. Check.
But that was a long time ago. Now, I am tired. I don’t want to do five hundred things at once. The rhythm of my new life? One thing at a time. Right now the laundry is tumbling in the dryer, and I am okay with just waiting for it to finish before I begin a new task. That nagging voice still taunts me with whispers of all of the things I could be doing while I wait for the dryer to complete its cycle, all the ways I could be more effective, but…I resist. Sure, I could be putting the big rocks in my jar and filling in the spaces of my executive planner, but I’d rather shake the rocks out of my head and relax, maybe do a little coloring. My goal is to have no goals, just wait and see what happens next.
There is a lot to be learned from young children about what’s important. And they know the shortcuts for getting there. Little children are labeled ego-centric and older adults described as “set in their ways.” I guess the old and the very young have a lot in common. They are the tireless advocates and we are the tired ones; together, we are in cahoots and up to no good. The shared resistance must be the real reason older folks make such wonderful grandparents.