Being Available

"It's a transformative experience to simply pause instead of immediately fill up the space. By waiting, we begin to connect with fundamental restlessness as well as fundamental spaciousness." 
-Pema Chodron,  - When Things Fall Apart

Being available matters to me. A lot. That means being available to those I love and care about, to those with whom I cross paths, to those to whom I may be able to offer help and support, to my work, and, to myself. Being available means I have the time and space to listen deeply, respond thoughtfully, and connect meaningfully. Being available means having a sense of spaciousness in my heart and around my time. I want to be the kind of person who is available. Lately, I'm not.

Somehow this year I've let my time get so filled up that I can hardly catch my breath. Lately, I've had more than a few conversations with friends and family that start  like this:

"I know you are really busy right now...

"I haven't wanted to bother you...

"When your schedule eases up...

"I hate to ask you, but...

"When things slow down for you...

I hate being that person. You know, the one that is too busy, too overcommitted, too overwhelmed, too swamped, too stressed, too buried, too..... 

But lately, that's who I've become. It is a challenge to keep up with phone calls, emails, and even texts, whether from those near and dear, or those a bit beyond the inner circle. Time to get together is a rare commodity. The work I want to focus on gets squished into little slivers of time that don't allow for the kind of spacious thinking that work requires. Time to myself feels like a luxury. The practices that fuel my tank, like quiet early morning hours, meditation, exercise, and time with "my people" are in short supply. I feel like I am perpetually running on empty, and those that I want to be available for can feel it too. 

What isn't empty is my calendar. Even though it is filled almost exclusively with people and things I care deeply about, life feels flooded with commitments. I seem to have gotten into the habit of filling a day or an hour if I see that it is open. When someone asks "Can you?" I look at that specific block of time, and if it's empty, I answer, "Why yes I can.", never thinking to look up or down stream before jumping in. 

While yesterday's commitments may be water under the bridge, it's time to lower the floodgates and slow the flow of the days ahead. 

Just because there is empty space on my calendar doesn't mean I have to fill it. 

Just because someone asks doesn't mean I have to say yes. 

Just because I've done it in the past doesn't mean I have to now.

Just because it needs to be done doesn't mean it is mine to do.

Just because I can doesn't mean I have to. 

But if I am available...maybe I will.

 For those of you who have felt my lack of availability, please forgive me. You matter more than I can say.

For those of you who have felt my lack of availability, please forgive me. You matter more than I can say.