“One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.” ― Bertrand Russell,
It’s going to be “the best ever!” — the best birthday, best Christmas, best dinner, best party, and you are likely to have the best nervous breakdown trying while you’re at it. Houses showing the best decor, yards that house the fewest weeds, and kids who have the best grades and behavior will eventually wear us down, won’t they? For some reason, all of those things and so many more are ways we often seem to measure our own worth. Take Russell’s advice: if you want to have a nervous breakdown, make the measure of your own importance a 10 on the 0-10 scale, and if you want to be happy, start now to lower that number.
Writing this just days before my oldest son marries the love of his life, I continue to ask myself, “On a scale of 0-10, how important is _____?” The things that have filled that blank have been large and small: the weather, photos, the food, people showing up, having fun, and making sure everyone is happy. Russell’s words are perfect for this weekend and for life.
- There was a time when others’ happiness would have been a solid 7 or 8, while now it is probably a 2 – it’s out of my control.
- The weather cooperating (saving the rain for the next day) is even more out of my control, and no amount of worrying or fretting will change what the weather will do. It was at least a 1 on my scale until I bit the bullet and rented a tent. (edit: the bride’s parents offered to pay for it!)
- People showing up at Sinking Creek Farm is also out of my control, and I believe those who are there will be those wanting to hear the vows spoken and celebrate the kids’ beginning life together. Giving it a 1 instead of a 0 because I recognize that a nice crowd would be good for the couple to see as a support.
- We’ve entrusted a wonderful local business with preparing great food for the reception, so worrying about the food is far from my mind. A 0 on the scale, and I’m looking forward to some tasty fare from The Alley on Main.
- The photos are part of my responsibility, so I cannot be free from concern in that area. I think about whether I have all of the right equipment, whether I’ve learned enough to use the flash for the best photos, and whether I’ll have everything on my list of must-have pics. On the scale, photos will come in as a 6. (Hey, I’m being honest)
- Having fun is the theme, as far as the bride, groom, and I have discussed. Because I want to be aware of not being too serious, ‘having fun’ is a 5 on the list. It really matters to me that we have a great day with lots of love and laughter.
How important is it that dinner begins exactly at 6:45 instead of 6:55, that the first dance is at precisely 7:15 instead of 7:30? How important is ______? Fill in your own blank for what you have given too much importance. Is your routine too rigid? It’s possible that your flexibility is being challenged when following the same routine matters more than enjoying the morning or the drive. Is your world black and white? A little gray can be daring and delightful.
I’m probably going to cry at least once during the day, but those will be happy tears. People often throw out a quote about life being short, like, “Life is short so eat the cake, buy the shoes, take the trip.” I’ll add to that, “Life is short, so have a blast on the journey!” It seems many of us get caught up in the importance of us and forget about the journeys others are traveling.