This morning I have had a quiet and unhurried morning. The kind of morning where you are washing the dishes and spontaneously decide to clean the microwave. The kind of morning where you put on classical music and drink tea out of fine china. The weather is delicious, there is washing on the line (and more in the machine), the kitchen is now clean, and I am sitting out on the balcony, in the sunshine, with a cuppa, watching the bees potter around the cherry plum blossom and writing.
The thing is, I could very easily have had a very different kind of morning. There is a working bee at church that I could have attended, I could have had coffee with a grieving friend, or visited another friend in hospital. Each of these are totally worthy activities and they fit in well with my personal ethos of care for others and unselfish behaviour. Each of the activities I could have done would have been fun and rewarding. Today I have chosen not to do any of them.
This leads me to the question, and it’s a question I don’t have an answer for. Where is the line between self-love and selfishness?
Spending time alone, pottering around the house, reading and writing, that for me is refreshing and fulfilling. I love to have the kind of morning that I have had this morning. I would be happy if every single Saturday was like this. I would be happy if most days were like this. (At least, I’m pretty sure I would, given the opportunity!)
But I also believe, and believe strongly, that serving others, putting their interests first, getting out of our comfort zones and doing good, these are so important. That living to serve my own happiness will only lead me down the path of discontent and that reaching out to others is where the real value of life is found.
However, I don’t think I believe that we should then become doormats, doing whatever anyone asks of us, stretching ourselves to total exhaustion and burnout. I don’t believe that you need to be sick before you rest.
So I guess that means that some self love is important. Some time out (every day, every week) is essential. But I also feel that I am a selfish creature and if I get some I will continually ask for more. Until I am a lump of lard, sitting on the couch all day reading books and eating ice-cream out of the tub. And even if I was totally happy, my life would be worthless – no good to anyone. Not how I want to live.
The difficulty I have, is trying to figure out the point where ordinary and necessary self-love (which will help me live the life that I want to where I help others as well) turns into selfishness (where I serve only myself).
Perhaps my problem is my all or nothing approach. Although I don’t want to be selfish at all, perhaps some selfish looking behaviour is not at all selfish in small amounts. Like some chocolate is fine, but large amounts is bad for you. Hmmm…
What do you think?