Fully Engaged

Just when I am beginning to come to the realization that I am not “fully engaged”, that I am not giving my all to anything, a long-lost school batch mate comes along. One with whom I never had any conversations (although I desperately wanted to), and has an hour-long phone conversation with me. I am at work and he is in his car as we talk. The conversation is so engaging that he misses two turns while chatting on the phone. And before we hang up, when I ask him what he likes to read, he says he likes non-fiction and that he is in the middle of reading “The Power of Full Engagement” – I am baffled at what appears to be yet another incident of synchronicity for me.

The one thought that makes me miserable is my inability to be fully engaged in anything. People get the impression that I am committed to a cause, an idea or a course of action because perhaps even my fractional engagement isn’t half-hearted, but there is a constant realization that I could be such a better version of myself if I wasn’t preternaturally prone to distractions and dissipations. I do all the wrong things at the wrong times. I stay awake well past midnight even if I am supposed to wake up before the crack of dawn in order to make it to work on time. That leaves me with no more than three or four hours of sleep. Then I sleep on the bus and get jarred out of sleep at the sudden realization that the bus has entered New York City and that I need to collect my things, get off the bus and walk bleary-eyed to work. Then at work I start downing several cups of coffee in order to get myself to a fully functional state.

I never get home before eight, sometimes nine. I play with my daughter for an hour or two, all the while thinking I should be spending more time with her. Then she retreats to her room to watch cartoons for hours on end and I let her because this is the time for me to get online, converse with friends, check the message boards that I moderate, browse various sites, download music, the list is endless. I am surprised I never get a message similar to the one the guy in the broadband commercial got – “You have reached the end of the Internet, please go back”. And once again, my distractions take me to 2:00 or 3:00 AM at night and then it’s time to get ready for work again.

Notice how there hasn’t been any focus here on my home, my husband, no signs of any cooking, cleaning, laundry, time spent together. It is my secret shame. I do spend time on cleaning the house or doing laundry but leave it for Saturdays or Sundays, which means I never have an easy weekend. On the weekends I am either procrastinating, avoiding the mountain of tasks that await my attention, or I am doing them and working my fingers down to the bone, getting so tired that I am snippy with everyone around me as I ask them not to get anything dirty or messy ever again.

Something is definitely not right. Some deserving candidates need fuller attention from me, most of all my daughter, my home. Don’t think I am forgetting my husband; yes he needs more attention from me as well. He is certainly doing a lot of the heavy lifting-even though he needs to come to terms with his own distractions – his devotion to sports and all its online manifestations, the recently developed online poker habit etc. He drops our daughter off at daycare in the morning, he picks her up at night, and he makes sure a hot meal is waiting for me at home, he takes out the garbage – I can’t thank him enough for all the ways in which he makes my life so much easier than it would otherwise be. He is extremely conscientious about the care and maintenance of the two ladies in his life. I love that about him, I love him. He has given me enough of a long rope to hang myself. As for intimacy in marriage…well that is receding so far into the distance…We might as well be roommates sharing a roof and seeing each other for a couple of hours each day. There is no time for the dance of seduction, for romance, for candlelit dinners, nights out…and time is just an excuse, somewhere in this jumbled mess that we have come to think of as ‘life’ we have sacrificed desire. It rarely emerges. It’s important to us and it isn’t there and there are no clues about how to find it or retrieve it again and time is short, too short. There isn’t much else out there after the onward march toward the twilight years begins; the bond needs to become stronger and unbreakable.

And that brings me back to the matter of “full engagement”. It takes a schoolmate from twenty-two years ago to suggest that I should perhaps consider reading about full engagement, he suggests this out of the blue; he knows nothing about my life or me. I am never one to pick up self-help books, in my arrogance I believe I know all the answers and can figure out the ones I don’t know. Even now I know a recalibration is urgently required, a correction needs to happen before I lose control of my life, I know what ails me, so why do I need to read a book about it?

But I did pick up the book and I am reading it. I need to read it to shine a mirror on myself as each line or catch phrase hits home. I need these words to hammer me back into shape…not sleeping enough, not eating right, not exercising, feeling unenergetic, feeling fatigued, never being “fully engaged”. I have all the symptoms; I am a classic case for the authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwarz. I am probably the worst case they have ever seen.

I am at page 16, R. Will let you know how it turns out. Thanks for the suggestion.

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