is it wise to take on more?


As the one year anniversary of my dad's passing approaches, I am sadly, and gratefully, reminded of a few things. 

Some of the sad things are that he is profoundly missed - more than he would have ever known, he didn't get to see the Transit of Venus, he never got that trip to Ukraine, and he didn't write more.

Things I am grateful for, are the many memories I have. The time he caught me in the bar when I was 15 years old. His cryptic financial advice that drove me nuts. How he always offered guests a welcome "schnapps" which meant anything alcoholic. His ability to play any tune upon request on his mandolin without any formal training.

I am taking time to reflect on his curiosity, generosity and humour. His love for community and sports and family. His propensity to volunteer and the fact that he never stopped leaning new things or taking on new new projects.  

During the time of the funeral, my sister and I came across some documents in his computer.  Letters he had started to write and, to the best of my knowledge, never sent. Unfinished thoughts ranging from climate change to technology to part time work opportunities for his grandchildren. We found a particularly well written note outlining challenges he was having with an opinionated priest while serving as President of the Ukrainian Orthodox church in his town. 

One document was titled: Is It Wise To Take On More?

All things happen for a reason, which is perhaps why I married someone who is not hesitant to remind me to "Focus on the task at hand." Such clarity. Clarity that is easy to lose sight of, at least for me, in a results driven world full of distractions and excuses.

I also lose focus by putting unreasonably high expectations on myself. My head gets cluttered because I take on too many projects which stems, I think, from having too much ambition. I end up setting myself up for failure. I have too many ideas and far too many interests, which can sometimes backfire in the worst way and lead to nothing getting accomplished at all.

Perhaps some of it is hereditary. (See below.)

I am currently in the process of writing a manuscript. A task that requires enormous focus, discipline and time. It takes letting go of other things and doing less. It takes...focusing on the task at hand. 

There is a chance my dad would have eventually added another project to plate and started his own blog. If he did I bet it would have been entertaining and enlightening and educational. Posts about golf and astronomy and the health benefits of purselane. I'm guessing that he would have also written about things like cutbacks to education programs, political leadership (or lack thereof) and the importance of language. 

But since he is not here to do that, I am taking the liberty of passing along some of his writing here, posthumously.  

I don't know who this note was addressed to because it wasn't addressed to anyone. Perhaps it was in response to someone asking him to be involved in another organization. Perhaps he was taking stock of where his time and energy was going and questioning what was important to him.  

I'll never know.  

But in his absence, he is very present. His values and insights live on. And if all things happen for a reason, I am posting this now is because it feels like the right thing to do.

"Is It Wise To Take On More? Thoughts from Ted, Oct/06"

Sometimes it is necessary to take a moment and reflect on your involvement and your commitment to yourself and others. There has to be a limit as to how much one would want or need to have on one’s plate and still try to do justice to himself and others around him or her.

Although I was involved in a number of organizations and groups while I was in the work force, I find that that number has increased upon retirement to the point that saying ‘no’ must have its place somewhere. I realize also that certain priorities need to be reviewed periodically.

A brief overview of my present involvement:

- President of UOC - due to aging members, this job involves more than just meetings. I think we are all aware of that.

- STS (Superannuated Teachers of Sask) - Program Coordinator

- Melville Lions Club- Secretary- most of the admin/correspondence/reports and meeting arrangements etc. are in my lap.

- St. John Ambulance - First Aid  duties as required in the community and District. Also Assistant Supt. about to undergo 2 weekends of intensive training. (We’re trying hard to hand the reigns over to younger blood but it’s been painstaking so far).

Crystal Lake UOC Youth Camp - on the Bd.of Directors again; ‘rooked in’for another stint. I thought I was done after serving on that Board in various capacities for over 35 years. Try to get new blood into that camp? Someone from Ituna was supposed to have taken my position but to this day no one has been visible at any meetings.

Order of St. Andrew - (the training institution for Orthodox clergy) - member. With the Yorkton Chapter going on 11th year-program committee work and occasional bingo volunteer discussions pertaining to the welfare of the Parish, hopefully fruitful.

Other incidental items, as time permits…..volunteer driver for the those who are need  of travel assistance re medical appointments etc. Volunteer tutoring, through Regional College and otherwise; ESL assistance periodic; Meals on Wheels; casual farm help, etc.

I certainly don’t want this to sound like a resume of my retirement and hope it’s not just a boring list of things from my perspective only; I’m sure others, including yourself, have their involvements, commitments etc.

Don’t get me wrong, we still have a life but I find it’s getting more and more taxing on our time of recreation and time with our families. Golfing and Curling do have high priorities with me but along with these come responsibilities of serving on executive committees in these clubs as well.

I’d like to find more time for hiking, cross country skiing, birdwatching, writing family memory episodes, woodworking and painting.

Maybe I need two lifetimes? Marg and I are very thankful to God for continued health, family and friends for being able to live a life of comfort to ourselves and hopefully continue to be of help to those in need.

Should I be taking on more volunteer tasks?  I need to seriously assess the possibility of first dropping something somewhere before I say yes. At this time I should continue to do as much justice to what I have mentioned above and see what the future holds.

I’m not trying to make excuses for accepting other responsibilities, just simply stating the facts.