I’ve been thinking a lot about asteya lately. With writing this blog, attending yoga class frequently, and completing my other teacher training work, plus house-hunting, spare time is really at a premium, and it’s hard to find time both to unwind and to spend just relaxing with my husband, F. We try to cook dinner together 2-3 nights a week, and after dinner cleanup we’ll often head to the computer room to try to get work done on our various projects. No matter what, we always try to wrap things up around 9 o’clock so we can watch a little TV together before bed.
Except that, as I found out the other night, F and I appear to have very different definitions of what “around 9 o’clock” means. For F, when we say “around 9 o’clock”, that means that he starts keeping an eye on the time at 8:57 and finishes typing at 9:00 so he can be out on the couch before 9:01. I have a much looser definition of “around 9 o’clock”; my version includes the ten minutes before and after 9, and usually I don’t get moving till after. Then I use the bathroom, refill my water glass, maybe get a snack together, so that by the time my butt hits the couch, F’s been sitting there seething with the video on pause for a full ten minutes. This is clearly something we have to work out.
Yes, F could use a dose of santosha at times like this – he could approach the evening with a more relaxed attitude and more acceptance of his wife’s flakiness. But really, I’m kind of the one causing the problem. I find myself doing the exact thing that Devi described in her commentary on asteya: thinking to myself, “Oh, I can get one more thing done before 9”, and then thinking, “Really, I’m not THAT late!” Ultimately, I know that when I’m late, it upsets my husband who I love. It’s such a little thing, and should be so easy to fix, but time and again I find myself running around and yelling “Sorry, I’ll be there in a sec!” over my shoulder to the living room.
I need to practice some asteya here, because what I’m doing at times like this is stealing F’s time, not to mention his energy and good humor. He paid attention to the clock and wrapped things up on time; I should be considerate of him and do the same. Plus, the later we start watching our show, the later we’ll finish it and the later we get to bed, and with such a crazy schedule lately, I need my sleep! And of course it’s harder to fall asleep when we’re both tense because I was late. When I behave this way, I’m also stealing sleep time from both of us.
So what am I doing on the computer that’s so important? Usually it’s something minor: writing one more sentence of a blog post, or dropping a quick email to a friend, or (and usually this is what it is) checking Facebook for the 85th time. F understands about the blog and the yoga homework, but he points out, quite rightly, that with such a busy schedule lately, if I’m wasting time on Facebook, then that’s time we don’t get to spend together. When you put it that way, it feels like I’m choosing Facebook over my husband, and that’s a pretty sucky way for my husband to feel. It’s not an active choice, because Facebook-time creeps in so insidiously; if I were making an active choice, I’d be choosing to spend time with F, but I’m not choosing actively. This is something I want to change.
Still, a part of me is crying out for just some “stupid time”, some non-scheduled time when I can zone out and relax and not have to be smart or motivated, time when no one expects anything of me. Facebook definitely fulfills that for me, but there are plenty of other things (like watching TV with my loving husband) that can fulfill it too. I hope that in the future, I’m able to act with more consideration and kindness, because that will make both F and me happier.