Outwardly and inwardly
“To live fully, outwardly and inwardly, not to ignore the external reality for the sake of the inner life, or the reverse, that’s quite a task.” — Etty Hillesum
Of all the frustrations I feel about time constraints, perhaps none is greater than wishing I had the time to stay in closer touch with so many people who mean so much to me. Computers have enabled us to do this in a quicker but sometimes less personal way, and I long to send (and receive) good old-fashioned postal mail.
I also wish I had more face-to-face fun time with friends — and I bet you do too. And more time spent just enjoying my family. Or the ability to visit relatives who live far away, and catch up on what is happening with my aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. On and on I could go.
Yet I also crave more time alone, to get things done, to read, do crafts, pray, meditate or just sit and savor being alive. With so many blessings to be found outwardly and inwardly, it’s difficult to strike the right balance. Too much time with others (even when much of it takes place through fairly solitary means such as computer time and postal letters) leaves me feeling overstimulated, distracted and vaguely worried about undone tasks that are piling up. Too much time alone, even if spent productively, can lead to rumination and a feeling of isolation.
My friend Jeanie once said that her idea of heaven would be the ability to love as completely and fully as she longed to do on earth, without being bound by time, logistics or other human constraints that can separate us from each other. I hope that dream is coming true for her now, and I agree that it’s a wonderful thought.
Meanwhile, we all face daily the challenge of using our time wisely and well, living fully in both our inner and outer lives, so that one reflects, supports and enriches the other. Do you find it easier to prioritize time alone, or time with others? How do you strike the right balance, and how do you know when you need to shift gears?
One year ago today: