A few minutes after five p.m., I suddenly slipped off my bathrobe and put on clothes.
I don’t know what got into me.
It’s not like I had a beautiful lover over, which would have justified being in and out of a bathrobe and nothing else all day long.
Nope, I was alone in the hours and days before a major holiday—when I should have been shopping, vacuuming, writing my next book or otherwise gainfully occupied.
Earlier in the day I thought, “I shouldn’t be in my pajamas and slippers past 10 a.m.” But then I heard Byron Katie’s voice rise from inside me: “Is that true?”
“It seems true enough to me.” I said out loud to nobody in particular.
Then I heard Katie say, “Can you absolutely know that you shouldn’t be in your pajamas and slippers past 10 a.m.?” I also imagined her frowning at me, seeking a specific answer from me as I finally caught on.
“No,” I muttered. “I can’t really know anything about PJs or anything else with certainty.”
But I bet you a nickel that at five minutes to five on a Wednesday Katie isn’t in her PJs and robe. I can’t even really know for sure if she wears PJs. I can’t know what time of day anybody ought to slip off their Star Wars inspired slippers and put on business socks.
When I was a stock broker, I used to dress up in a three piece suit and be at work by seven a.m. each business day. I was busy; I had a target for the number of people I would contact in a day and the commission I would earn.
Pondering my current self, I can feel Tony Robbins and other goal-oriented coaches disapproving of me while using my former totally results-driven self as a great example of goodness. But I have to say that back then I was quite compulsive and not self aware.
Perhaps, if the goal is big enough, we don’t really need to be there to enjoy it. Maybe materialistic success is enough.
But maybe it isn’t.
Maybe the wildly driven success stories so rampant on the internet don’t really fit most of us who don’t even slip out of our PJs unless we are headed to Walmart or Church.
It was at the moment of slipping out of my PJs and into my sweat pants—at 5:12 p.m.—that I had an “aha” moment.
I’m not going to attempt to please Tony, Katie or any of those self-proclaimed people helpers. I have nothing against any of them; in fact, I think they help a lot of people. But there is someone closer to home—that special someone I live with day in and day out, whose company I alternately seek and shy away from—who I really need to court and please: Me.
When it comes to PJs, I have to admit that I am a bit upset still being in sleepwear at five p.m., but I am proud, too.
I’m proud that I have lived in such a way that I don’t have to get dressed until I want to.
Though Burger King suggests that we should “have it our way,” few of us do. Except on rare occasions, we get up when we are supposed to, work our tails off and save too little for retirement. If we don’t follow the party line, we feel the guilt that goes along with not doing so.
Looking at my life honestly, I have to admit that there were times when I blindly fell into the party line, doing what I was told when I was told. But there were other times, too, when I left my lucrative job as a broker and moved into the woods with my young wife and newborn daughter that I said, “What the heck,” and did it my way.
The “my way moments” contribute to a life well lived; the paint-by-number moments, following cultural dictates and goal-setting, really don’t add much other than stress and delayed gratification.
Maybe with a little of the money I worked so hard to get I will buy myself three new pairs of jammies—ones that I can mix and match tops and bottoms. Maybe some days I will rush to the gym and work out hard before the sun rises, while other days I will lounge in mismatched pajamas until sunset.
Author: Jerry Stocking
Editor: Toby Israel