Tuesday, January 10, 2006


So here's the thing: I'm on a committee at church. And as much as I believe in the mission of the committee, it's become a burden. We meet twice a month---meetings that consist mostly of reaffirming our commitment to the mission and talking. And talking. And talking. Most of the talking could easily be accomplished through e-mails (e.g., calendar items, updates on legislation). We very rarely actually do anything. And somehow the talking and the planning for the talking and the more talking have grown like a B-movie blob to occupy much more of my time than I had intended. So normally I would bow out as gracefully as possible, but . . .

I'm on a subcommittee for an event coming up in the spring. I mostly volunteered because no one else did, but also because it was---for once---an actual thing to do. And I was initially excited. I like to plan events. I like to brainstorm and work out logistics and make schedules. But as this commitment has dragged on, I've burned out. We needed a maximum of three months to plan (the guide---provided by an international organization that has put on thousands of these events so they might know something about this---suggests two months to plan). We have been planning for four months already---and the event is still three months away! So far, all we have done is talk and talk and talk---and about the same topics over and over again. No decision seems to be final---ever. So it's not really surprising that people are losing interest and dropping off the subcommittee. I'm still committed, but barely.

So today I fielded a phone call from the committee chair and took the brunt of her frustrations that people aren't more committed to this event. Because I can't attend a meeting tonight because I had already made plans. And because I can't have lunch today because I need to go home at lunch to take Rowen outside because I have plans after work.

And here's the thing: The committee chair and her husband (who co-chairs the committee) are retired. They have no children at home, no pets, and no work commitments. They keep very busy and do a lot of work for social justice, and I applaud them for both those things. I think it is important for people to stay occupied after retirement. But I have little-to-no patience for retired people who complain about how busy they are: You are retired; you choose to be busy. You have chosen your commitments.

This couple---mostly the woman---don't seem to grasp that people who are not yet retired might have other commitments in their lives, both voluntary and involuntary. I have to work at least 40 hours per week (or, at least, sit in an office for that amount of time). I have deadlines, and occassionally I try to meet them. I don't particularly like my job; it kills my soul and my spirit a little more every day and I'm usually drained by the time I get home. I also have a dog who lives in an apartment and relies on me to take her outside for recreation, exercise, and physical needs. I made a commitment to her to provide as good a quality of life as I can; I won't have a pet of convenience. Those two things---work and puppy---take up the majority of my time. I also have a commitment to social justice and I keep up with certain issues to a reasonable degree. But until I find a paying job that promotes social justice, that commitment has to fit in somewhere after work and Rowen and between keeping the health department out of my apartment and myself out of the hospital. Nor does this couple understand that people may have varying levels of commitment. Yes, I think social justice is important and I devote some time to it. But it isn't the only voluntary commitment in my life; exercise, writing, reading, friends, family, crafting---these are all important to me, as well. I'm trying to find a balance, which isn't always easy. But with this couple---particularly the woman---I feel like it's all or nothing. I feel judged if I don't commit every waking hour to social justice---and particularly to the causes that they deem important.

So here's the thing: I'm committed to social justice but not to this committee. But much like my job, I feel committed to stick it out for a few more months. All of which is making me develop a severe fear of commitment.


At 9:31 AM , Blogger Bearette24 said...

I hear you...I hate "meetings" where nothing is accomplished.

At 10:14 AM , Blogger Number Twelve said...

Hey, the fact that you've written a blog post THIS long to explain how much this whole process is annoying / bothering you tells me you're not going to last three months.

And I never seem to "win" when I play the martyr and stick it out when no else will.

At 1:25 PM , Blogger Lisa said...

12---I think you would be surprised at my tenacity in maintaining unhealthy situations.

At 7:43 PM , Blogger Frema said...

I agree that you can only give so much to "the good cause" (whatever that cause may be) before you eventually burn out. I have volunteer commitments that average about three to four hours a week of my time, and that's all I can handle. Meanwhile, after moving and starting a new job and moving in my boyfriend and transforming him into a fiance and now planning a wedding, I'm still trying to find my "normal" routine. I wonder if it really exists.

At 5:51 AM , Blogger Number Twelve said...

Confession - I've been here three times since I've read your response hoping that I would post a really snappy comeback and... well... nothin'.

"Touché pussy cat."


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