In 5th grade, my science teacher diligently taught us the dangers of smoking. She quit. She taught us about the need to care for the delicate ozone layer. She started recycling. She told us that Styrofoam would not only help to deplete the ozone layer, but it added pollution to our world. She stopped buying eggs.
One day, she came in more exasperated than usual (remember- she stopped smoking) and said, “I QUIT! I just can’t take this anymore!” We all stared at her quizzically before she went on to explain, “I try to listen to these people and do what they say. But they’ve now said that the air is bad and I just can’t stop breathing!“
Now fast forward several decades…I watch the Today Show every morning. I hear what the nutritionists say I need to eat. I hear what the financial planners say I need to plan. I open my refrigerator. I look at my bank account. I shake my head.
Then, I hear the beauty consultants discussing what skin care treatments I need to prevent skin cancer and premature aging. I see what the latest styles are that I need to wear. I check my closet and certainly don’t see those clothes hanging. I check the clock and I certainly don’t have the time to engage in the skin care treatment they suggested.
Next comes the morning email check. There are offers to link and connect with this person and that on what seems like 15 social media outlets. There are credit card statements, banks statements, and emails that need replies. There is the “ding!” from the online calendar telling me that I’ve got appointments and sessions in what feels like minutes.
I go to leave the house, only to see the yard that needs some late winter maintenance to prepare for the bulbs to bloom. My mind starts racing on what should be the peaceful ride to my office. I’m somehow trying to mentally fit in everything that needs to be done on one single afternoon later in the week.
And, then the words of my 5th grade teacher suddenly pop in my head, “I can’t take this anymore!”
There are so many demands for our attention, our money, our time, and our talents. These include our family, our jobs, our churches, our neighborhoods, our friends, and the list goes on. How on earth can anyone ever do all of it? I would like to meet the person who can honestly keep up with everything the experts say and their life at the same time!
The most important thing my 5th grade teacher taught me was not the steps to the scientific method. What I remember all of these years later is that it’s ok to say, “I QUIT! I can’t keep up with everything that everyone else wants me to do! I can try to do my best, and I can focus on a few things at a time. But I can’t do it all!”
What can’t you take anymore?