A few Sunday mornings ago (or maybe afternoons since I had the freedom and desire to sleep until eleven a.m.), I was curled up on my couch in San Francisco, California, reading the Handmaid’s Tale. Then I wrote this:
I get so mad at myself. It sees like everyone around me is always doing so much. I woke up today to three text messages:
(1) The first came from my boyfriend in response to the text I had sent him at 9:30 p.m. the night before. “Good day?” I asked. By this time, I had already been in bed for three or four hours, nursing sunburnt legs (from an afternoon in Golden Gate Park) and numbing my brain to my favorite antidepressant, vintage episodes of Law & Order. My computer streaming the cable network’s self-proclaimed “binge-o-thon,” I fell asleep shortly after I sent the text.
This morning, I saw his response, timestamped at 9:54 p.m., “Cleaning up now. But it was good.” Twelve hours before he sent that text, he sent me another one saying he had already gotten to work for the day and couldn’t chat. He worked for twelve hours, jackhammering his way toward his goals.
(2) The next text was from my boss, “I sold my 2012 MacBook Pro yesterday for $440 (bought it for $1000) and bought a 2015 MacBook Air two hours later for $780. #score #craigslistrules” She probably should have included one more hashtag, #whileyouweresleeping.
(3) The last text was from my younger sister, reminding me it was Father’s Day (which, for the record, I did remember on my own) and telling me my dad slept in the hospital last night (gasp!) because my ninety-year-old grandpa had the flu (phew!—not that I’m happy my grandpa is sick, but his frequenting the hospital is much less shocking than my dad being the patient).
I have two sisters. My older sister lives in Chicago with her husband (a professional in Jewish education) and two young kids (the grandchildren). My younger sister lives in Philadelphia, a short drive over the Delaware River from my parents in South Jersey. She is in med school, studying to be a pediatrician and follow the King tradition of my father and grandpa, now resting in his hospital bed.
While my sisters unconsciously rival for the gold medal in Parental Approval, I undoubtedly hold the bronze. I seem to date non-Jewish men, never want to birth children and dismissed law school for a career as a writer and dreams of being a New York Times best seller.
Let Me Out I’m Stuck. A New York Times best seller!
But that will only happen if I do something. If I work as hard and diligently toward my goals as I imagine the senders behind the text messages on my phone.
Which brings me back to the purpose of this post: Being Grateful.
In the Handmaid’s Tale, the main character is stripped of her freedoms—Freedoms of choice, voice, passion and action. As a young American, I take these freedoms for granted. But Margaret Atwood’s words resonate—my freedoms are a privilege. Yes, they are meant to be enjoyed. Sleeping until noon on Sunday is a luxury I should not guilt myself out of enjoying.
But my freedoms are also a responsibility. To do, to make, to grow, to share to help.
I am grateful for the freedom to use my time. This blog is to keep me accountable.