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Life's Smorgasbord offers too many choices

Published April 16. 2011 09:02AM

Did you ever go to a big smorgasbord where tons of tempting food is there for your selection?

I enjoy a smorgasbord. With all the possible dishes, I'm sure I can find something I like. Plus, it gives me a chance to try new things I might not order on my own.

Some of my friends refuse to go with me to a smorgasbord because they claim all those tempting offerings cause them to overeat.

I see that same thing in life itself.

There are so many wonderful possibilities we can choose along with so many activities and adventures we can try. Just as some are tempted to overeat at a well-stocked buffet, I over reach in my everyday life.

I feel like the bumblebee I watched in a garden, flitting from one flower to another.

There are so many activities I want to try so I go ahead and schedule them. The result is a crowded calendar that sometimes defeats the purpose of so-called leisure. When I have to rush rush from one activity to another, it starts to feel like work, not pleasure.

It's true that, for the most part, we make our own busyness. Certainly someone who doesn't have to go to work every day can't blame anyone but herself if she creates a jammed schedule.

But, oh, I am that bumblebee seeing all those wonderful flowers it wants to try. How can I resist?

Take drumming, for instance. Ever since I moved from Pennsylvania, I have missed being able to attend Moe Jerant's fun-filled djembe classes. It gave me great joy to drum along with other enthusiasts and to socialize with the special friends I made in those drumming classes.

It's hard to find genuine djembe drumming in Florida. But after a four-year search, I actually had tears of joy when I found someone who taught real djembe classes.

Fortunately, my husband enjoys the classes even more than I do and it gave us one more thing we like to do together.

Look at our calendar and it's filled with dance classes, photography class, computer class, kayak club trips, wildlife seminars, and shell club and boat club activities. In addition, we do at least one or two physical activities each day, either biking, kayaking or exercising at the Y.

By the time I add a day to schedule newspaper interviews and writing time, I'm out of time before I'm out of activities.

I knew we were busy but I realized we had finally hit "too busy" when we tried to schedule a day with my longtime friend, Jan, and her husband, Franck. We had to wait three weeks before we could find a mutual opening on the calendar.

It was with great reluctance that David and I came to the same conclusion: We have to drop some activities, including the drumming class we both enjoy.

Just at the time I'm starting to believe we can make some space on our calendar, David announces he wants to try painting class. He's always wanted to paint, he says. And he wants to start going on more photography field trips, he adds.

He's a math whiz but I can't convince him of the limits of seven-day weeks and 24 hour days.

Our "problem," if it can be called a problem, is that we both have a keen sense of adventure and we both like to try new things. When we were busy raising families and working, we didn't have time for many outside interests.

Retirement is a wonderful time of life when we can eat from the smorgasbord of delicious delights just waiting for us to try.

Not everyone wants to sample anything on that buffet.

I met a fellow in church who complained that "retirement is boring, boring, boring." When I asked him what he does for fun, he said, "Nothing. There's nothing to do around here."

There's plenty to do. But not everyone will take advantage of it.

There are those who try too many things and those who do nothing. A few, like my friend Jan, manage to strike a perfect balance.

"In retirement, you control your own schedule," she says. "It's up to you to make it what you want it to be."

Some like clear, open days with no schedule and no commitments.

Others thrive on the chance to try new things.

Just as I'm clearing my calendar a bit, I received an email about a ladies' sailing club that is offering beginner sailing lessons. I want to try it. I don't think I'll be able to man a little sailboat by myself in open water. But at least I want to try.

Part of me is afraid of the first lesson. We have to deliberately flip the boat over in deep water and learn to get back in. But in whitewater kayaking I learned the thrill of beating back fear. So I may do it.

"You need another activity like you need a hole in your head," protested my friend Kay. She's always insisting I'm going to wear out faster.

Can I help it if I love life?

Can I help it if life's smorgasbord offers so many tempting choices?

Maybe I do too much for the same reason I eat too much at a buffet.

There are simply too many delicious offerings.

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