“Relaxing” in the Hot Tub
I felt refreshed and excited. I just finished swimming laps in time to have a few minutes in the hot tub to unwind before heading off to the rest of my busy day. As I was going towards the hot tub, a man in his seventies was climbing out. He showed me the secret to getting the bubbler to work again.
As I saw down, he asked me if I swam in high school. We talked about the high school I attended. Then he shared that he swam in college in the 1950s. He went on to talk about getting older and a variety of other topics, one after the other. While I enjoyed his initial friendly exchange, as he continued to talk I started to wonder when he would stop. I just wanted a few minutes of solitude and peace. I was having a hard time hearing him over the gushing water and kept having to lean forward to hear, asking him to repeat what he said.
Right before I needed to get out, he got up and left. I am not positive that he might have picked up on my desire to be left alone. I wondered if he had because of some subtleties in the way he left. I felt a little bad if that was the case.
On some level, my interaction with that man reminded me of times with my kids, especially when they were in various developmental stages when they talked a lot and asked a lot of questions– often when I was trying to concentrate on something else. It occurred to me that perhaps the young and the old have a desire to connect with others more, that they live in the present moment more, and that I could learn a lot from them.
My observation is that people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s are much more task-oriented and geared towards accomplishing tasks, reaching goals, and getting things done. Yet, in their personal lives, they are often surrounded by parents and kids in the connecting phase. These active people crave and genuinely need time to recharge, have time for solitude and time to think without being interrupted.
So who is more on track? The elderly and the young or those active 30s,40s, 50s people? The answer is “both”. Yes, they are both on track. We must be both willing to attend to those who want to connect with us and honor others when they need their solitude. The trick is to know what time is what. But there really is no trick. We have the Holy Spirit to guide us. The Holy Spirit will gently guide us through those delicate situations.
People who never set boundaries for self care and rejuvenation can be spiritually off-balance and can potentially become mentally ill; so can people who always opt for the selfish option. On the other hand, not learning to read body language and develop emotional intelligence that would indicate someone needs to be left alone or at least spoken to for a little bit rather than a long time can lead to future relationship difficulties. It is important to develop prudence, self-control and sensitivity when we approach others, and not let our own needs spill over and blind us to the needs of others.
Catholic Women’s Healthy Relationship Tip: Use the compass that God gave you, the Holy Spirit, to discern times when God wants you to stretch or maintain greater sensitivity and self-control with others.