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Seven Treasures of Single Time

Seven Treasures of Single Time
by Sandra Prillaman, Ed.S., LPC

Before going further get a card or piece of paper about 3 X 5 inches.  On it write down your heart’s desire.  Put it aside to be used later.

The other day I was at my married sister’s house.  She has a husband and two children.  She asked if I would like some coffee and cookies and I said that I would.  When she went to retrieve the cookie package from the top of the refrigerator the package was there but there were no cookies.  “Who ate the last cookie?—and left the package?” she demanded.  Dear Reader, this doesn’t happen at my house.  The package may be empty but I know who ate the last cookie.   I live in single time.

Let’s consider the concept of treasure.  Treasure by its definition is something of value that can be hard to find.  I want to alert you to four blind spots that make finding the treasures I am going to talk about difficult.

First, there is the blind spot of over familiarity.  Over familiarity is the condition of taking a person, the workplace, the usual route to work, the usual grocery store, whatever so for granted that we do not see what is new or what is valuable to us.

Second, there is the blind spot of preoccupation.  When we become too busy we forget to look up, look around to see what is around us that might give us another perspective, another alternative.

Third, there is the blind spot of expectation.  If our expectations are too rigid we may not find something of value because we see only what we expect to see in a particular place at a particular time.

Fourth, there is the blind spot of heart/mind set.  Having our hearts and mind too focused on just one thing blinds us to what else is there.  We are like a birthday child in the midst of a wealth of presents in tears because one of the things that was requested is not in evidence.

So. . .we may be blind to the treasures of single-time, because, often, if we are single, what we most desire is to be coupled. I said that there are Seven Treasures.  There may be more, however, these are the ones I have discovered in my life and by listening to clients and friends.

Treasure One.  This is the opportunity to learn to care for ourselves.  Sometimes, having a partner insulates us from the hassle of learning important skills.  If we are weak in a life skill or if the partner has superior skill or interest we leave it to Harriet or to Harry.  If we were married at some time we may have divided chores along traditional gender lines.  Being single is a time to stretch your skill set into heretofore undeveloped areas.

Learn to cook well.  Learn to cook a meal you would be proud to serve friends. Learn to provide yourself a welcoming home.  Someone important lives there.  You! Learn how to provide yourself with clean clothes with a minimum of hassle.
Learn what your automobile needs and when.  Take care of it. Learn to take care of yourself financially.  A friend of mine, a financial broker, tells me that at least once a week she meets a woman, usually widowed, who has never written a check and isn’t sure where the financial records are.  Now, in the midst of her loss, she must try to learn to care for herself financially.  This, at the beginning of the new millennium.  Learn to care for your money so that it can care for you.

Treasure Two.  Treasure Two is the chance to develop a wide circle of friends.  Sometimes being in a relationship limits our friendships for many reasons; two big ones are lack of time and the possibility that our partner does not like the friend or the friend’s partner.

Treasure Three.  Treasure Three is the chance to pursue our interests unencumbered.  Bird watching, politics, chess, writing poetry, rock climbing, sky diving, whatever.

Treasure Four.  Treasure Four is the chance to pursue education or professional goals single-mindedly.

Treasure Five.  Treasure Five is a big one.  On a highway once, I saw a sign that stuck with me and applies to a lot of circumstances in life.  It said, “Give gap; Take gap.”  Many people are very good at one or the other.  If you’re a giver, learn to ask for what you want and need.   If you’re a taker, learn to observe what others need and provide it—in person, if possible.

Treasure Six.  Treasure Six can be fun.  It is the time to exercise self indulgences that have to be negotiated in relationship.  Read all night, eat crackers in bed, wear funky socks, get up at dawn and sing, keep the house as impeccably clean as you like.  Read the newspaper in whatever order pleases you.  Watch whatever TV shows interest or entertain you.  You can even get rid of the TV if it suits you.

Treasure Seven.   Treasure Seven is saved for last because it may be the best one of all.  It is not exactly dessert because it is hard.  I believe that complex things; rocket science, brain surgery, a perfect soufflé; are relatively easy.  Absolutely, it is true that they take study and practice.  Nevertheless, it is the simple things that are really hard.  If it can be stated in four words or less then it takes a lifetime to do well.  Be honest.  Be modest.  Be fair.  Love others as yourself.  And the biggest, know yourself.  Single time is a good time to define or further discover who you are.  21 and you’re done, is a misconception.  Who you are keeps changing because you keep adjusting in the face of your dynamic world.  School, jobs, faith, family, friends, partners, children, pets, health, location, current events, technology.  Know what your core beliefs are.  Can you say them out loud?  Do you practice them?

Now, think again about those blind spots discussed at the beginning. Over familiarity, our daily lives are so familiar to us that we don’t take time to see the treasures that are tucked here and there.  In a book as a bookmark I recently found a poem written by a friend who died a few years ago.  There it was, a treasure right in the middle of my day.  There are treasures of single time tucked into every day that could be missed if we are not ready to overcome the trance of over familiarity.

Preoccupation, out too-busy-ness goes right along with over familiarity.  But preoccupation is a little different in that it denotes that we don’t expect to find treasure in the midst of what we are doing.  Interrupt yourself once in a while and look around.

Not the right place/expectation is the twin of preoccupation.  As Jon Kabat-Zinn states in the title of his book, Wherever You Go, There You Are.  All places are the right place to find a treasure.

At last, the blind spot of having your heart set on one thing.  Find the card or paper on which you wrote your heart’s desire.  Hold it front of your eyes about one inch from the end of your nose.  Notice what you can see.  Now, move it out about five inches.  Notice how much more you can see.  Now, hold it out at arm’s length.  Be aware of how much more still that you can see.  You can always hold your heart’s desire while you are aware and appreciative of what else the universe is providing you.

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