Monday, April 22, 2013

Good + Good + Good = Not So Good

This post is not about Ukraine. This post is about the insidious power of the word "okay".

Let's imagine that you're not satisfied with the way your days are going. The biggest part of it is that old universal complaint- there's no time left at the end of the day. Perhaps you pick up a book or two for guidance. All the motivational books these days say find the work you love, follow your passion, blah, blah, blah. So you leave your job and plan to get to it. Right away. Any minute now. Well, starting tomorrow. Then someone comes to you, asks you to do a bit of your old job, you say "okay". Another person comes, repeats the question, again you say "okay". Really, you have the best of intentions. And you did honestly enjoy the old job. Another request, another okay. And again. And again. Then, suddenly, you find yourself swamped, frantically trying to bail out something that looks suspiciously like the boat you were in before. Hmmm.

If you actually want to do it but don't have time, the hardest word to say is "no". Maybe you can find a way to squeeze one more thing into the day. It's just easier to say "okay" and then rearrange your schedule.

If you really like the person who asks but you won't be able to do it nonetheless, the hardest word to say is "no". You don't want to let them down, of course. It's just easier to say "okay" and then use a sleeping pill to get to sleep that night.

Even if you would rather get fifty lashes than do it, the hardest word to say is "no". Just because. Isn't it easier to say "okay"?

It's so odd; I have supposedly been taking time off this spring to write more and work on the almost (I swear!) ready new website for learning Russian, but instead my schedule went from teaching 3 evenings a week to teaching 5 days or more. How in the world, seriously? Maybe it's the spring weather, revving up everyone's desire to learn a new language. If I'm not teaching at some given moment and actually able to answer the phone, it's usually someone calling about covering classes or starting lessons. Individually I like 99% of what I'm doing, but when all the parts are added up together... it's really overwhelming. How can good + good + good = not so good?

These days I just want to go outside and go for a walk with D. Meander down to the zoo or something. But it never works out. In fact, he recently worked 12 days straight because of a looming project deadline. And since I've got classes half the day on Sunday again, our weekend has now become one day long: Saturday. Or, it should be Saturday, but there was the Saturday he worked, there was the Saturday we got up really early to play badminton, and last Saturday we could no longer resist the вахта's pleas to have an early morning picnic together. To be fair, all those things (well, minus the work) turned out awesome. Badminton was a blast! We played in a big open court with our friends Maxim and Irina and stayed to watch a bit of a national tournament before grabbing pizza elsewhere. The picnic ended up being a lot of fun too, a great intro to the newly green-ified world.

Please, someone tell me- why is life suddenly so busy? Is it a communal spring fever? Just please don't tell me this is what life is permanently like after 30! If so, I'm gonna have to go back to age 28 for the rest of existence.

I just got off the phone with a school director who asked me to teach on (you know what's coming) Saturday. "The teenagers really want someone to talk to, they're very bright and eager!" she promised. Part of me thinks it sounds like fun. Another part of me wants to play badminton instead that morning. And somewhere deep inside is a little voice saying "This will be the fourth Saturday in a row that you have neglected yourself and your most important relationship with another human being (D)."

Another thing I noticed is that when you're running on empty, the piece of you that everybody gets is not the best piece of you. It's the slightly-grumpy, slightly already-worrying-about-the-next-event version of you. I don't think I even remember what it's like to have a clear head. I keep thinking "Oh, it's just this week that's been a little busier than normal" but when I slow down and look at the wall calender I realize I've been using that as a rationalization since January. 

So, for this Saturday (and life in general)- what are your thoughts, my readers? How do you deal with the constant barrage that life hurdles at you? I found two great pieces of advice in this article. Perhaps you can suggest something that's inspired you?

Also, haha, is it crazy to start teaching 8 hour Sundays again next month? Especially if each (individual) class sounds like a good thing?


  1. Люди всегда страдают. Многие люди страдают от скуки. Это страшно на самом деле. Лучше страдать от нехватки времени чем от скуки. Но помни - надо обязательно отдыхать, уделять себе время и своей семье. И ни кто не должен иметь возможность отобрать твоё личное время. Надо учиться говорить нет. Другого выхода нет!

    1. Привет Макс : ) You're right, boredom is a dangerous thing too. Something to keep in mind!

  2. How strange, the situation you just pictured looks so familar! Maybe it's about me?
    Is it possible that you just read my mind?

    Sometimes I think, what makes me so busy? What? It seems I was born busy...
    I know people who are much busier than me, but they don't worry about that, and I thought it's just me who suffer from it. Now I'm not alone!

    Just watched a movie "Yes Man". One day the main character started to say "yes" to every opportunity he met. It's even more challenging than to say "no".

    Can we possibly learn to say "no"? Can we change something that we were born with?

    1. Timur, you are the original busy man. I don't know how you do it, wow! That's part of why it's so cool when you find time to hang out with us. Speaking of which- let's picnic soon!

      Despite being born with whatever we're born with, I think that it's possible to modify certain behaviors over time... or at least I'd like to think that...