In my quest to slow down, to enjoy life by savoring moments instead of gulping down whatever was thrown my way and screaming, “Thank you mam, may I have another?!” I decided to indulge in something I had always liked the idea of doing, but never actually did. There are many of those things, but in this case it was simply reading the Harry Potter series of books. Sound ridiculous? I thought so too.
It stuck with me all this time, more than ten years since the last book was published. Through the movies, one after the other. As the hubbub bubbled around every new book in the series. Most of the readers I knew had children and reading the books became a family activity. But I did not have children at that time, and felt the awkward absence when you want children but it isn’t anywhere on your radar.
Later, when the readers I knew were telling everyone they had gotten the latest book, I’d pay attention. As the days started to pass, I’d slyly ask questions about the story. Eager to know more, but you know, playing it cool. Someone would inevitably say, “Hey, you should get the books.” I’d always respond with don’t-have-kids-washing-my-hair-walking-the-dog-reality-TV-is-my-thang. They probably weren’t fooled. I’d been an avid reader for most of my life except for those college-age party days that came with pictures that still need editing before my son asks questions.
The thought of Harry Potter intrigued me more as my son arrived in the midst of my rising, and highly demanding, career. I’d worked around the clock, carving out a few precious hours to eat dinner and rock him to sleep before jumping back on the computer to work until midnight. All to get up at 5:15 am and do it all over again. Exhaustion. Baby. Exhaustion. Morning commute. Deadline. Meeting, meeting, meeting. Eat lunch at my desk. Meeting. Work. Working late. Evening commute. Ahhh, baby, dogs, husband. Peace. Kind of. Three hours tops. Try to squeeze in a house chore. Work on laptop in pajamas until midnight. Sleep….. Not much of a life really. And, in hindsight, what the heck for?
Getting laid off from the big corporate job and company I had loved felt like a like a sucker punch. I had visions of the remaining employees on the team I had managed skipping around the cubicles and gleefully singing “Ding, dong, the wicked witch is dead,”just like the Munchkins from the Wizard of Oz. Clearly, I knew some did not like me. After nine years, several awards and recognitions, and working relentlessly around the clock; new higher management came in and cleared half of us out. But, in hindsight, the company was exhausting me. We had an overwhelming amount of work to get done by a team who was already putting in extremely long hours. I was always stressed, spent, and had no time for anyone or anything. I thought I had a life, but in reality, it wasn’t much of one.
It’s been quite a while now, and I’m so grateful for that unexpected life change. Gladly, I no longer feel like I’m getting eaten alive like the fish in that Asian dish. You know the one where the fish is kept partially alive to flip around on a dish while you slowly eat pieces of it and watch its painful, torturous death. It’s so nice to have breathing room to relax, savor, do nothing, or do everything. To spend time with my son and sweet dogs. To breathe and not have the vice grip of stress bearing down around my chest. To do a simple something that I had always wanted to do and actually have the mental capacity to enjoy it. Even if it was as simple as reading Harry Potter.