Caring Less

I found myself caught in a tough situation recently. One where my feelings were hurt. Not intentionally. Not directly. Not even knowingly. It was a completely internal struggle. I let someone else’s choice – which was right for them – lead me to question my own choices from the past. Regrettably, this is not a new position for me.

I often find myself wishing I could choose one thing but feeling too much external pressure to do something else. So, I succumb and bend to the will of the masses. Only….I’m not so sure the masses even care. I think it’s more my perception of their will. More accurately, my self-imposed guidelines of what I’m meant to follow as a proper member of polite society. (wow – even I’m rolling my eyes at this)

My friend, Truth, tells me to care less about these frivolous things. Because, honestly, they are frivolous things that don’t matter much in the broader picture. They often affect no one but me. And anyone else whose day changed in the wake of my choice, likely spends less than 3 minutes contemplating this little hiccup. So why…..WHY….do I let it consume so much of my day, my mind, and my heart??

Why should I get up early to take medication to fight through a migraine headache in order to go into work because of that one meeting I scheduled when colleagues from all areas are calling in to care for themselves at home when needed – even if a meeting must be canceled because of it? Why do I continue to say yes to lunch dates with family who emotionally & mentally exhaust me when they don’t give it a second thought to cancel dinner plans with me because something ‘better’ came up? Why do I constantly look at my watch and rush home from time with friends in order to get back to my son when he is perfectly fine on his own for a while longer?

These decisions are easier for some. They’re easier for Truth. He knows the value of his peace, and the triggers that will interrupt it. His immediate family and his mental/emotional/physical well-being will trump any expectation society or an individual tries to place on him. I envy his ability to quickly see this balancing scale in his head and make clear, concise decisions without vacillating. I both desire and resent his capacity to care less at appropriate times.

I struggle to change my thinking – to care less – because in my heart I don’t want it to be that way. I don’t want that to be the answer. It may sound naïve, but it pricks my general sense of community and humanity that caring less is the only way to make life survivable. I don’t want us to have to close ourselves off. I don’t want to create a hierarchy of ‘me first.’ I want to experience and feel and live life in all its facets. I want to love others enough that I freely give extra of myself when I can, but also take extra when I need it. I want to live in a world where we see each other in our most base, wanton state. Where the truth of need is exchanged for the authenticity of gift.

This isn’t the world we live in. And it won’t be. Ever. I know this in my head. And probably in my heart. I don’t even practice what I preach. I have taken enough blows to have decided that staying relegated to the safety of my armor is the best place for me. I do not experience the wholeness of life. I hide in my corner trying to figure out how not to get in someone’s way, for fear my armor will take more damage than it can withstand.

In my head I tell Truth, “I’m tired of rearranging my life for everyone else’s comfort.” In my heart, I tell myself “if I just do these extra things, it will help someone else and maybe they’ll have a better day.” The bridge between these is to figure out how to continue to give the extras without sacrificing my peace in the process. This is what I need to learn from Truth. I’m not sure I can ever ‘care less’ for others. I wasn’t made that way. But, with his help, maybe I can care more for me. Maybe that’s where I’ll find my peace.

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