The other day I happened to overhear a conversation between two family members, one of whom was being harshly reprimanded for using one of the other’s belongings and not putting it back.
The tone of the conversation initially gave me the impression that something very serious had occurred.
But the more I heard, the more surprised I became that something so trivial could incite such anger.
Instead of coping without that thing, the family members’ relationship was now being damaged.
To be fair, I do not know all the details and there may have been more to the conversation than I was able to observe.
But it reminded me of the way we often compromise the things that are most important to us for the sake of things that don’t really matter.
I find this to be a description of my own life more often than I would like, especially when I have a lot to do.
My life has become so busy over the past year that I have to actually schedule in family time, or else all my time at home will be spent submersed in textbooks and scholarship applications.
But this seems backwards. I realize that teachers may come after me for this, and I don’t want to undermine the importance of working hard in school.
But I’m slowly learning that giving too much of yourself to these things can do more harm than good.
Spending an extra 20 minutes studying might give me an extra five marks on a test, which will maybe contribute one percentage point to my overall grade, and well—it basically ends there.
But if those 20 minutes were instead spent with my sister doing random dancing in the kitchen (one of our favourite activities) that time becomes invaluable because we are growing closer.
And at the end of my life, I know I will be more pleased to say that I had significant relationships than a few extra marks in my classes.
The reality is that so much of what we exert our time, energy, thoughts and feelings on really doesn’t matter.
But these things have deadlines and immediate practical consequences, whereas the outcomes of building relationships and developing character aren’t always quite as tangible.
Take, for example, the situation many people, especially in Kelowna, find themselves in when the flawlessness of our transit system is broken and the bus is late.
You can stand there and worry incessantly (which, believe it or not, does not make the bus come faster) about all the problems that could be created in the extra five minutes you spend at the bus stop.
Or, you can look at the situation differently. If you end up being late meeting someone, you exercise your creativity and make up a story involving a baby in distress and maybe a rogue duck that explains your tardiness.
You can see the happiness that is present when stress is not.
Ultimately, you can learn that no matter how troublesome the consequences might seem, life continues.