Wednesday, April 30, 2014

When No Means "Know"

The great philosopher What's-His-Name said, "Know thyself." This makes abundant sense, but how many of us really, really do know ourselves? And once we get to know ourselves, what if we change? Yikes! And does studying up on yourself make you conceited? I guess that depends on what part you're studying, whether it's the package or what's inside.

After living in this incarnation for more than half a century, I know this about myself: I've got to say no.

I've finally learned that good intentions aren't always best acted upon. It's better to say no up front than it is to say yes and do a half-assed job, or be angry and put-upon, thus eroding those good intentions and replacing them with frustration.

A few years ago, the organizers of the May Day Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm (see below) asked me, as leader of the Mountain Tribe, to create a banquet table-sized display for my tribe. Luckily I knew a first-rate seamstress who made me a gorgeous banquet-sized tablecloth, complete with dragons and gnomes and the tribal name, and (of course), mountains. What a thing of beauty! And then, to top it off, I channeled some heretofore untapped creative pool and covered that table with gorgeous rock displays (authentic Polish Mountain rock at that), along with snowdrifts and faerie pictures and the TARDIS.

Of course I didn't take a picture! I'm Anne Johnson, the doddering idiot.

Long story short, the first two days of the festival were gorgeous and crystal-clear. On the final day, the skies darkened and a deluge of epic proportions commenced. It rained everything from aardvarks to zebras, along with the requisite cats and dogs.

The ground at Spoutwood is spongy anyway, since there's a delightful little creek flowing through. But this rain storm turned everything into a quagmire, through which I had to haul all my Polish Mountain rocks a quarter mile to the car. I'll bet I had my weight in rocks on that table.

This misadventure may have been my "Eureka" moment.

I'm thinking about this today because it's pouring buckets outside. All of South Jersey is under water. I may have to evacuate Decibel the parrot to higher ground.

A dedicated crew of volunteers and vendors are trying to set up Spoutwood in this mess. They must have their hands full. And while my heart is there with them, I'm dry at home, half dead from a day of teaching with dinner yet to prepare, but knowing that there's nothing heavy I have to lug through a marsh.

Awhile back a fellow Pagan blogger wrote to me about an elderly Pagan lady who is in a nursing home and who would like to get visits from some members of her faith. My heart said, "YES YES YES YES! I'm off to see the sweet lady post haste!" But the older, wiser me told the f.P.b., "I'd love to do it, but I'll have to wait until school lets out this summer."

Harsh? Sadly, yes. Realistic, YES YES YES! Negative energy is ruinous. This I have learned. And for me, loading my plate with heaps of well-intentioned but poorly-planned volunteering is a fail.

When it comes to self-discovery, I'm not sure whether all of this falls under "no" or "know."


Debra She Who Seeks said...

Yes, it's very wise not to over-extend ourselves. I don't volunteer anywhere near as much as I did when I was younger. I just don't have the energy anymore to work all day and then volunteer in the evenings. Hey, I did my bit and I don't feel guilty now.

Lucretia said...

THANK YOU for this post, Anne. I've "learned" this lesson many times, and it has finally sunk in. I think maybe we can reword that saying:

"Know thyself, so that ye know when NO is needed."

Anonymous said...

I have finally learned that it is better to say "No" upfront as I used to postpone and then guilt myself into something because I thought I should. Now I give a firm "no" response right away, no more guilt!


yellowdoggranny said...

get a name and address and I'll write her.