I lost something recently that I cherished. No, there’s been no death in my family. I like to use big words and have a tendency to exaggerate. I lost pictures I’d taken on my holidays, pictures I’d admired and played with and hoped to share on Instagram, probably 500 of them. I went on a hike to a lake this summer and impulsively took my phone, the keeper of my precious pictures, on a swim and, nope, I didn’t have them backed up. My phone is dead, blank, unyielding, even though I smothered it in quinoa, rice, and silica crystals, took it in to have it checked out by people who know more about phones than I, stroked it and prayed over it. I’m still praying, but to date, sadly, there’s been no resurrection.
I should have taken better care. When we care about something, we value it. We commit ourselves, our time and our resources, to its preservation. We’re careful with it. When we don’t care about something, we ignore it and, often, disdain it. “I couldn’t care less” is a contemptuous phrase we fling out to show our utter disregard for something. “Who cares about that!” we say, as if everyone in the world is firmly on our side concerning the matter. When we use the words, “I don’t care”, in a situation of loss, we usually do care and are trying to talk ourselves out of the discomfort we feel.
We all have moments in life when we’re careless. A chore, defined as an unpleasant, but necessary task, may receive a hasty, half-hearted response from us, because we want to cut the unpleasantness short. We may not have time to be as careful as we should be. A deadline is looming and we’ve procrastinated or there were unforeseen difficulties and we’re forced to cobble something together. Or, our carelessness may be a matter of flagging resources. My little girl wasn’t a year old and needed to be supervised and, yet, I recall snoozing on the couch while she played quietly nearby. Had something happened, I never would have forgiven myself, but I was used up and couldn’t keep my eyes open. This is an instance where I or others may have suffered for my carelessness, not unlike those who don’t heed danger signs or follow traffic laws. Or, we’re simply not thinking when we should be caring, which was the case with my phone debacle. When I entered the water, my mind was in the moment on the immense beauty surrounding me and the fact that my friend had already taken the plunge, not on the phone I just stuck in my pocket.
We can’t blame our minds for being elsewhere. In a society as complex as ours, we have to be discerning about when and where we decide to care. We can’t care about everything. We’d go mad. I read a book about the brain and habits once. Our brains are set up to enable us to do the things we do frequently without thinking. Supposedly, we have to save our limited brain power for important moments and crisis situations. Breathing, walking, eating, brushing our teeth, even driving, anything habitual, is accomplished with very little care on our part. Certain things, like surgery, require the utmost care and we expect those who practice such specialized manoeuvres to be prepared, alert, and attentive, to care greatly, and to perform accordingly. We want our healthcare professionals, dentists, lawyers, accountants, nannies, etc. the people we rely on for assistance in matters we care about to care about what they’re doing.
We don’t all care about the same things and we don’t want anyone judging us for what we care about. Generally, here in this culture, we care about our health, well-being, and comfort, friends, family, and pets, education, meaningful work, financial success, the acquisition of things we desire, and our leisure activities; sports, literature, music, and the arts. Some go so far as to care about those most don’t care about like stray animals, homeless folks, the elderly, and the sick. They go door to door urging others to care about them, too, by asking for donations or volunteer hours.
I can’t tell you what to care about, but I’ll tell you what I’d like to stop caring about. I’d like to stop caring about what other people say about me. Allowing ourselves to be shaped by the opinions of others can leave us confused, downhearted, and insecure. It’s my desire as a Christian to be rooted in the love of God, the one who made me and knows me more intimately than any other. His love is limitless, unchanging, and eternal, a solid rock on which to build my life. People are fickle and even family and true friends
will let us down. I also believe that caring about what others around us achieve or have in an envious way is a recipe for discontent. Of course, we always need to care enough to celebrate others, but why waste time wishing we could do what others do and have what others have. Why not rather go out and get what we want!
In truth, I struggle to care. I don’t share this often with people, but I have Attention Deficit Disorder. Caring, for me, takes focus and I have to work to maintain focus, which is why I’ve quit so many things and that’s a whole other post! I run out of focus and I stop caring. I look back on my childhood, on how carefree it was (there’s that care word again) and I wish I’d known how good I had it. As children in this society, we eat, sleep, and play and responsibility is added in measured doses, more and more as we age. ADDers are known to run from responsibility. We’re always looking for fun, on the hunt for the next high. We want to do things that excite us only. The boring and mundane, we tend to shirk, because focus is required. I wish I cared more, but I have to push myself constantly, assure myself that this task will only take a few minutes and it’s not going to hurt me to do it, convince myself of the value of things that other people say I should value, like housecleaning, when I’d rather be editing pictures for Instagram or walking in the coulees or watching an exciting movie. I even struggle with self-care and you can read about that here. Anything that falls into the chore category is a challenge for me.
Those of you who receive my posts via email have been experiencing my carelessness first hand, as I haven’t put out a post in the last few weeks. I haven’t been true to the schedule I set up for myself. I’ve never been one for schedules, preferring spontaneity to structure, another ADD trait. The fact that I put out a post almost weekly for the past year is commendable, as I live very haphazardly otherwise. It’s not that I don’t have anything to post. I still have plenty of material, I just have no desire to write or share. Sometimes there’s nothing of merit up there, no deep thoughts exploding, no quips rippling, no prose begging to be born. I think it’s because I haven’t done enough to feed and grow my soul. I used to read voraciously and as a writer, I think it’s an important discipline to follow, but somewhere along the line, I allowed Instagram to take over my life and too much Instagram makes Polly a dull girl. I tried to limit my Instagram use by deleting my first account which had grown to 3000+ followers, but I failed to even contain my second account and I’ve had to downsize again. (If you were following me on Instagram and would like to continue, request a follow @penelopepantaloons. Please message me indicating that you’re a reader. Thanks.)
When I first set up this blog, I took the advice of a successful blogger as to when and how much to post. I’m ready to decide for myself what’s needed and, right now, I need some space. I want to thank all of you who regularly read my posts. I’m humbled that you would give me your time and attention. I don’t know when I’ll post again, because I’m granting myself the freedom to post when I’m inspired to do so. But, at the core of my being, I’m a writer. Writing is something I’ve chosen to care about and I dedicate myself to it anew. I don’t intend to quit, so I’ll be around. You can count on it. In the mean time, take care of yourselves. 🙂
Photo of the Canadian Rockies graciously provided by Keith Traber, Instagram, @trabs_thesecretlifeof.
Posts come out when I feel like it. 😀 Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: @penelopepantaloons. Thanks for reading. 🙂