February 1, 2016 by Jean
The “Goldilocks Zone” is a term scientists sometimes use to describe the earth’s place in our solar system – not too close to the sun and not too far, not too hot and not too cold, but just right. I am still searching for the Goldilocks zone in my commitments to outside activities. Last winter, I had too little outside contact and suffered from social isolation. This year, in an attempt to avoid repeating that experience, I’ve been taking on more commitments. But, oops, I may have overdone it and gone from too little to too much.
The first commitment I made was a weekly dinner with my next-door neighbor. That feels just right. But I also applied for the Master Gardener class run by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service. This is a big commitment, a three-month college-level horticulture class that meets for 3 hours once a week with homework in between. But the application process is competitive, and I realized that I might not get in this year. A few weeks ago, I also contacted the artistic director of the Maine Music Society to inquire about auditioning for the Maine Music Society Chorale. I was enticed by the prospect of singing a concert of Billy Joel and Elton John tunes, scheduled for late spring, and I didn’t know how long it would take for there to be an opening. I wasn’t prepared for a return email asking me to be at rehearsal in two days! Oops, another big commitment. I joined at week 3 of rehearsals, not of Billy Joel and Elton John tunes, but of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, the most difficult music I’ve ever sung. (And I last sang music approaching this level of difficulty in college, almost 50 years ago!) After three rehearsals, I’m starting to get the hang of it, but I’m still playing catch-up and needing to practice at least two hours a day to be ready for the concert in early April.
Then, while I was sitting at my computer practicing music a little over a week ago, I got a phone call letting me know that I’ve been accepted to Master Gardener training, which begins in late February. This is both good news and bad news. The course is something I’ve been wanting to do for many years. However, the classes are the same day as chorale rehearsals, which means 3 hours of intense science education each Thursday afternoon followed by 2 hours of intense singing in the evening. Yikes! Have I taken on too much?
To top things off, I received the spring catalog for the local Senior College on Friday. I had been planning to take a course this spring, but I’m already feeling overcommitted. At first, I wasn’t even going to look at the catalog, but I couldn’t resist. And it turns out that there are several classes I would really like to take. Particularly appealing is a six-week course about Maine trees. It begins on Friday, April 1 and is taught by the same Maine Master Naturalist who taught the Fields and Forests course that I took last spring. This was very tempting, especially since I think it would complement the Master Gardener class. But, even as I considered it, I knew that April 1 was a familiar date and that I was already committed to something else on that date. When I looked at my calendar, however, I realized that my commitment was just to attend a late-afternoon art opening reception, which happens to be in the same building as the afternoon class! I could do both. And the Beethoven concert is on April 3, after which the music commitment will get easier. So I’ve decided to register for the course.
Am I trying to do too much? Probably. I will have one month (March) of breathless over-commitment. In addition to the Master Gardener class and increasingly intensive (and frequent) music rehearsals, there will be a series of Wednesday afternoon lectures at the McLaughlin Garden I want to attend. I have given up a tentative plan to go away for a week in March; that would be the straw that breaks the camel’s back rather than fun and relaxing. Fortunately, the Master Gardener course is a one-time undertaking; once I have completed the course, my responsibility will be a much more manageable 40 hours per year of Master Gardener volunteer work. Maybe next year, I’ll get my commitment to outside activities just right.