By A.E. Bayne
February 2017, pg. 3
Last year, I wrote an editorial about my goal of practicing loving kindness toward those in my life and my community here in Fredericksburg. It has not always been easy, but setting that intention has helped me approach challenging situations differently over the past year, especially throughout 2016’s divisive political campaigns. Watching conflicts, both onscreen and off, over fundamental differences in philosophy has been a test of my intention, the result of which has helped me to set this year’s goal toward being more actively involved in my community, especially regarding issues affecting the most vulnerable among us.
Time and energy have always been my go-to excuses for why I am not more actively involved, and they are very real challenges. I work as a full-time educator and run a publication as a secondary career. I am a partner in a local book festival that requires year-round planning. I help to organize events for an area art gallery, and I try to write at least one freelance piece each month, whether for Front Porch or other publications. I also attempt to carve out time for creating visual art and poetry. When I am not working toward these personal and career goals, I am fostering relationships with family and friends. Time for anything else? Not really. Or is there?
Like most people with access to the Internet or a cell phone, I spend a lot of unintended time online. The social media time-suck is a real phenomena. How often have I tapped on the screen to check recent updates, only to find myself scrolling, clicking and responding an hour later with no recollection of where the time has gone? I might do this under delusion of keeping in contact with friends or remaining informed, but I understand that social media is a superficial mechanism for true relationship building. Let’s face it; social media is easy. Building lasting relationships with people who hold differing opinions than I do is not. How’s that for a fact check?
I also love to binge-watch my favorite shows and movies as much as the next person. How often have I started Episode 1 of fill-in-the-blank show, only to find myself six hours later at Episode 8 wondering if I have time for just one more? How do I reconcile spending those hours in front of the tube? The shows are quality programming covering important issues, the writing is top-notch, and whoo-boy, those actors are talented. Right. Excuses.
Don’t get me wrong; downtime is a necessity for everyone. A person who doesn’t practice self-care will never be strong enough to care for others; however, I am sure there are myriad other ways I could take care of myself that would leave more time for more altruistic goals. Bottom line: My lifestyle choices in my downtime chew up hours that could better be served in active involvement in my community.
I will spend this year examining where that time might be and will replace superfluous activities with those that will be meaningful to both myself and others. I’ll start with a couple of times a month and improve from there. The body works as a whole. When one part is weakened by ill use or neglect it affects the entire being. I intend to listen more, to discuss more, and to do more. This is our home. I, for one, plan to jump in and participate.
A.E. Bayne is the publisher of Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, a partner in the Fredericksburg Independent Book Festival, and a veteran educator. She has lived in Fredericksburg for the past two decades.