Originally published on 4 July 2006
One of the greatest freedoms of getting a handle on what is in my life is not saying yes, but in saying no. Having somewhat an unrealistic view of my time, I have a tendency to over-commit. Using Getting Things Done has allowed me to see what is on my plate, but I’ve always viewed that as a way to judge if I could take something else on, not taking into account if I had the desire to do something.
Sunday I had an epiphany. I’m a seasoned musician, and our church does not have a professional music program. We rely on the volunteers to provide the music for the services. I’ve always felt it my duty to play when asked, regardless of how I felt about it. Last year I got stuck playing a rather noxious piece with a clarinetist. I’ll let you in a profound secret here: I rather detest the sound of poorly played single-reed instruments. So playing this duet was not only painful, but the music unrewarding. But I persevered and played the thing.
On Sunday, I was asked by the clarinetist if I wanted to play the fourth movement of the piece for service in August. Notwithstanding that the church space is not air conditioned (no small obstacle in a place where August temperatures are in the high 90’s F), I looked at him, and all the things above flashed through my mind, and I said “No.”
That’s all. A simple No. No explanations. So very freeing. I had the requisite guilt pangs, of course. But I didn’t waver. It wasn’t until later that I realized what a bullet I had dodged. In spite of the dislike of the piece, the clarinet and the heat, I realized that I had allowed myself to use my limited practice time to get ready pieces I enjoyed playing.
What other things can I say No to in my life? I will be wondering about this. Look for the answers in a future post.