…ok, admittedly, when *I* dance, it has been known to cause harm to the world (or at least to innocent lamps and coffee tables), but still, I love the sentiment!
DON'T GIVE UP THE GREAT FOR THE GOOD
Dear Ones –
It's Throwback Thursday, so here's a photo from two months ago, of me and my dear friend Pastor Rob Bell (in our stage makeup – fancy!) at Oprah's Life You Want Tour.
I adore Rob. We sort of became siblings on this tour. (One of my favorite comments on Twitter was somebody saying, quite sincerely: "I didn't know Rob Bell and Liz Gilbert were brother and sister!" Yeah, well, we didn't know it, either…but in a way we are!)
One of my favorite things about the tour was getting to listen to Rob give advice to people, because he's so freaking good at it. One of the most memorable things I heard him say to somebody (who was struggling to find happiness and meaning in her life) was this:
"DON'T GIVE UP THE GREAT FOR THE GOOD."
As Rob explained it, there are only so many hours in a day, and only so many days in a life. There are many things that we can fill those hours with, and many of those things are GOOD THINGS — things that we need to do, things that are important. Our responsibilities. Our emails. Our housecleaning. Our job. Our ambitions. Our bills to pay. Our phone calls to return. Our storm windows to replace. Our Christmas shopping. Etc, etc, etc.
Those are all GOOD THINGS to do.
But then there are the GREAT THINGS that you could do with your time.
Only you know what your GREAT THINGS are.
But here's a clue — your GREAT THINGS are whatever makes your soul ignite, whatever makes your heart sing, and whatever makes you say, "Oh my God, I'm so excited that I get to do this GREAT THING today!!!"
For me, my GREAT THINGS are pretty simple:
1) Going for a long walk or a run alone on the beach, or in the woods, or in the city.
2) Dancing around my house while listening to music made for 16 year-olds.
3) Going to Target with my best friend for absolutely no reason.
4) Sitting down at the end of the day with a glass of wine, to talk to my husband while he cooks dinner.
5) Writing a book slowly in a quiet room.
6) Traveling somewhere new.
7) Calling my mom just to say hello.
8) Karoke night.
Not too complicated, right?
With the exception of Item #6 (Traveling somewhere new) every single one of these GREAT THINGS are readily available to me, just about every single day…or at least every week.
And yet sometimes I get so busy taking care of the business of life that day after day after day will pass…and I won't have done any of those GREAT THINGS.
Why am I so busy that there is not enough time in my life for any of my GREAT THINGS?
Why haven't I had time to go to Target with my best friend in six months?
Why haven't I been to Karaoke night since October?
Why did I tell myself that there would be no time next year to travel to a new place, because I'm too busy with my career?
Because I have stuffed my life too full with merely GOOD THINGS.
Therefore, the GOOD has crushed the GREAT.
What Rob taught me is this: Every day, you must be really clear with yourself about what would be a GREAT THING to do — and to make sure that it becomes a priority.
Only you can sort out your GREAT from your merely GOOD.
For Rob, who lives by the sea, his GREAT THINGS are making breakfast for his kids, and going surfing. When he gets too busy to do either of those things, it means he has let his life get too full of GOOD THINGS. Then he reins in his life, so that he does not miss out on the GREAT.
You may have to shuffle some things around in your life in order to be able to do one GREAT THING every day.
Some GOOD THINGS may have to go — or, at least, they will have to be taken off the top of the list. You may have to scale back your plans and ambitions, if they are interfering with your GREAT THINGS — or maybe you need to make plans or be more ambitious.
Only you will know.
But make sure you allow yourself the GREAT THINGS.
Or else your life will be merely GOOD.
And GOOD is fine. There is nothing wrong with GOOD. But in the end, it's just…you know…GOOD.
Why not permit yourself a little bit more of the GREAT?
Every. Single. Day.
QUESTION OF THE DAY:
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN TRAVELING ALONE?
Dear Ones —
This question popped up on the wall again this week, and I thought I should reprint this little essay I wrote about it on Facebook last year.
And if you all have your own thoughts and advice on the matter, do yo you mind sharing?
I myself have always had great experiences traveling alone. While there are certainly dangers, I have found that the same factors that make you vulnerable as a woman also make you powerful. What I mean to say is, a woman on her own does not telegraph a threat to anyone—which means that strangers all over the world will welcome you and trust you. They will let you into their houses. They will let you play with their babies. They will tell you their stories. They will give you a place to sleep. They will offer you assistance, food, directions, affection. I feel that, as a female traveler, I have had much more intimate experiences with new people than any man could ever have. They know I'm not going to hurt them, and so they open up to me. I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything.
That said, do be careful—or at least alert. There are places in the world I would not travel alone. There are places in my own state I would not travel alone, for that matter. If you don't see any local women walking around the streets at night, you probably shouldn't be walking there either. Other tips:
DRESS MODESTLY. I keep this rule just about everywhere I go in the world that isn't Miami. In developing countries or more conservative countries, I am especially careful to wear long sleeves and loose clothing. It's more comfortable, for one thing. (Less sunburn!) It also tends to attract less male attention. But most of all, in places in the world where modesty still reigns, dressing carefully will win you the favor of local women—whose good graces you will always need. If you're walking around in what looks to a nice Indonesian woman like underwear (tank top and shorts) she will be too embarrassed to interact with you. Try not to make people of either gender feel either aroused or embarrassed.
PACK LIGHTLY. I never travel with checked luggage…not anywhere, not for any amount of time. Carry-on only. Never bring more than you can comfortably carry. Being over-burdened makes you vulnerable in a thousand different ways. Stay light on your feet and you'll be safer and less conspicuous. Also, you don't really need it. Really, you don't! If you’re traveling from place to place and living among strangers, nobody will notice that you work the same shirt today as yesterday. You will also be safer from people putting things in your luggage (drugs) or taking things out of your luggage (cameras) when you aren't looking.
EYE-MASK, EAR PLUGS, PJ's, SLIPPERS. Bring good ones. Sleep is the most important thing.
DON'T BE AFRAID TO LOOK STUPID. Try to speak some of the local language, even if it makes you sound like an idiot. People (except waiters in Paris) will usually be charmed, not appalled. Eat things you wouldn't normally eat. Ask questions. It's OK if you don't know what's going on — the whole point of being a visitor is not to know what's going on, and to be unafraid to learn. Good manners and friendliness trump sophistication any day. You can always apologize for mistakes later.
DON'T ACT ENTITLED. I won't give any examples here. Just ask yourself constantly, "Am I acting entitled?" Then stop. Actually, this is kind of good advice for even when you aren't traveling.
BE READY TO HAVE YOUR LIFE CHANGED.
I mean, if you're REALLY struggling to find that special gift for that special someone…