If there’s one thing I’m not, I’m not a flake. I refuse to be a flake. To me, there aren’t priorities. There have never been priorities. There are simply commitments. My mind cannot stack items in order of importance because there will always be some threshold that prevents all of the things at the bottom of the list from being reached, so those things really have no place on this list.
[Is a task of low priority a promise? Will the items at the top of the list disappear, with the low priorities suddenly becoming high? That’s possible, depending on what they are. In my experience, low priorities stay low because they were low to begin with, and if they have little importance to you now then how can it become more important later? ]
All my life I’ve been told to take a chill pill. I thought I had improved, but there’s only so much that people get right about themselves. I’ve always thought that I had no trouble saying no to things, and I still think so. If I don’t want to do something, I will say no firmly. Strangely though, I’m only now realizing that I still have significant difficulty saying no to things that I would love to do. Too bad there are just countless things that I would love to do. I marvel at golden opportunities that blossom everywhere, and there is only so little that I can take.
I suppose this is where intelligent humans learn to prioritize and put first things first. Does scripture study take the top of the list, or does sleep, hygiene, my girlfriend, job, future preparations, any one class or every class? Then all those unimportant things – eating well, saving money, attending activities, extra study and practice, a social life, personal interests, hobbies, exercise, blogging – do they make up a bottom half of the list? Clearly not everything can be done at once. But are there really things that cannot be attended to? Clearly they all must be in order to promote some sort of balance in life. But I think people like me can really only pick and choose what must be done at one point in order to keep sane. Businesses, clubs, organizations…. they are so afraid to lose you. You are a human, an invaluable resource. They are selfish and want the most out of you, for a somewhat one-sided benefit. Friends want your time. School demands it. Work requires it.
I had a thought not long ago. “Be a flake,” it said. “Just give it a try.” That’s not something that’s ever crossed my mind before. Perhaps, in order to get into the habit of saying no, I ought to irresponsibly quit whatever I had going. Just this past week, I took a last-minute trip to San Diego with my friends and ditched a conference that I had been helping plan for many months. It was literally some of the freshest air I had breathed for a long time. I had to ask whether or not this was a priority to me.
It was not a priority. It was a commitment, one that I had made long ago, and one that I was no longer willing to keep. A man only has his word, and if his word means nothing, then what is he? I broke a commitment, in turn making another. A man can only handle one thing at a time. So I guess my word isn’t perfect after all.
Why did I make a commitment? Did I actually want to do it? Sure, I did. But how often do the things we want to do actually make us happy? I could get some kind of fulfillment out of doing a host of things, and I can look back with fond memories at all the things that I’ve done. But that’s the way I’d like to remember them. They were difficult, I was confused half the time, I was generally unhappy. Is it possible then that there is really nothing that stresses me out? I stress myself out when I place my commitments to the forefront of my mind where they belong. I cannot do the things that I want. I cannot even do the things that I need. I can only do what makes me happy. The minimum! It sounds like nothing, not very much. But it so quickly goes over the top.
I guess I was worried about living a fulfilled life. But my guess is that such a life is not necessarily a filled life. Life will become full of something, and I assume if anything low-priority has any part in it, those need to be as consistent and fruitful as high priorities. Whatever those may be. I really am not going to assume that anyone can be happy doing things any one way. But I suppose I can make a few observations—
- Trying to hard to make a difference in the world right at this moment can be really distracting, when focusing on personal happiness can actually influence other lives immediately in a much better way.
- A lot of things are important, and if they are, learn to do them all. Don’t eat poorly forever because there isn’t enough time to learn how to cook.
- That being said, even things that seem important need to be swept under the rug for a while. Those might be low priority, but when something is swept away then there’s a better chance of it not popping back up anyway.
- Life doesn’t have to be an enormous laundry list, with a few small breaks in between. Maybe it’s one big holiday, with some problem-solving situations shoved inside to make it interesting.
- Anticipate that when life gets busy, it gets busy fast. So no need to keep filling your time, unless you are sure that it will be empty for a good while.