For most of my adult life I have had only two speeds: 0 and 11 (because its one louder than 10!) Nicole’s always been a bit steadier than me, but her own dial is, necessarily, a function of mine. We’re used to every single day of the week being full of stuff to do, and the only time I’d hit zero is when I got sick or injured… which had started to happen with more frequency.
I used to be entirely unable to sit at home for more than two evenings in a row. I’d start to go stir crazy and I’d have to find something to do, or fix — or break so that I could fix it.
Its been quite an adjustment for us, then, to settle into our little house, in a little village, and into a more… healthy pace. I’d say things have been busy lately, but on my imaginary dial, “busy” is like a 5 now: a steady, but far from torrential flow of interesting projects, events and appointments. Some weeks, I don’t even start the car between Wednesday and Saturday.
But even this pace has taken some ramping up. A lot of the things we had previously built into our lives every time we moved to a new place are either unavailable, or just don’t seem as pressing now. Its been slow going picking out the things we really think are worth it. And whether by happy accident, or by some divine intervention, none of those things have been terribly demanding. Aside from work, I don’t have a single outside commitment that demands a frequency greater than once every 2 weeks. Its not that I’m not willing, its just that the demand isn’t that high.
– We’ve finally started a small group that meets in our home. After much debate about the time, and a fair bit of canvassing for attendees, we’ll be meeting with a group of 5-7 people every other Tuesday evening. We hope to grow beyond that, but this is a good place to start.
I’ve been incredibly disappointed with all the small group material I’ve found, to this point. Most of it seems to be designed for passive interaction: the group watches a 20 minute video, discuses 4 or less questions, and then its done. This is not what I had in mind, so it looks like I’ll be doing a little bit of work on a bi-weekly basis to prepare a group discussion, based on some Christian books (and related Scripture) that we’ve decided we’re all interested in learning about. Certainly I can handle that.
– I’m doing a video editing elective at church, teaching students how to use Final Cut, and maybe some other software. It seems to me that knowing how to collect video clips onto a timeline with some basic transitions is an essential life skill these days — even my parents know how to upload to YouTube — so it seems worthwhile. I enjoy teaching a lot, and the commitment thus far is one hour a month, plus maybe an hour of prep time, so its easy to just have fun with it.
– I’m joining a local Mac Users Group… for a couple reasons. Working from home has its advantages, but I do occasionally miss interacting with co-workers. A Users Group has minimal social requirements, but mostly its just a bunch of geeks, talking about something they enjoy using. You don’t really have to prove yourself any more, or learn anything new, or work really hard to fit in. You just show up with a Mac and be around people.
Last Thursday I attended one of their bi-weekly meetings and it was absolutely delightful. Many (but not all) of the members were older folk, with relatively low requirements for a computer, but they were true geeks nonetheless, having been meeting for 20 years. I wrote a post about users groups before, so I won’t wax too long on the subject, but suffice it to say, it was an enjoyable hit of nostalgia for those (relatively) early years of computing.
On top of those benefits, though, I’m going to be speaking at an upcoming meeting — and hopefully continue to do so occasionally. I really enjoy public speaking, and I’m decent at it, but its a skill that I’d love to develop and grow. The subject matter is safe and easy, and the audience enthusiastic, so it seems a good place to stretch myself a little bit.
– And finally there’s a bi-weekly commitment that involves some good old-fashioned manual labor, with a fun team of caring people. After sitting at a desk for 40 hours a week, it feels good (and sometimes a little painful) to do some actual work. Projects around the house are great, and I’ve had some success with those, but nothing beats working with a team, and helping other people.
Some weeks I help out with the young-adult evening service at the church, or prepare a video for Pastor Mark‘s sermon, so in a given week, I spend maybe 9-10 hours on outside commitments, leaving plenty of spare time for study and prayer, reading, and working around the house, with the majority of my week spent on my job and my family — and slow progress on Mandarin lessons with Nicole. Its still sometimes a little odd or frustrating for me to live at this slower pace, but I’ve gotta admit that I’m starting to like it.
Monday’s super lame holiday, where it was too cold to do anything fun outside, but all the stores and malls were closed so you couldn’t really go out and be inside, threw our routine off a little bit. Nicole and her mom and sister went shopping in the States, while Ben, Abi and I found people to see to keep us from getting too bored. Tuesday was a catch-up day from the weekend, and today we’re back into our routine… And we think we’ll hang out there for awhile…
This year’s tax season is complicated, but looking lucrative, and should put us in an awesome position for some bigger adventures next year. Until then, more of you should come visit us in our quiet little village. We can sit in the hot tub under the stars and discuss the mysteries of the universe… its really quite nice!