Service of How Flexibility Enhances Your Life

July 8th, 2024

Categories: Flexibility, Theatre

At my first magazine job, a fellow editor led a set, structured existence. If you said to her on Tuesday, “I have free tickets to theater for tomorrow, want to come?” She’d reply, “I can’t. I wash my hair on Wednesday night.”

When I launched a single person’s life after a divorce, I asked a friend to alert me if I ever said anything like that. You miss so much by being inflexible. As an adult, the woman in my example had never shared her life with someone else which may have fed her intransigence. Her job seemed to emphasize the situation.

The woman in my example was a copy editor so she had more control over her workdays than most. Unlike the other editors, she was never in search of last-minute props for photography or asked to dash off 700 words to replace a freelancer’s late or unacceptable copy.

If you work in PR–where my career took me next–you rarely stick to a daily plan or schedule. Something or someone almost always sends you in another direction. There are many jobs like this—doctor or lawyer for starters.

Here’s an example of the benefit of flexibility. Yesterday was fully planned, including time to write a post for today. In my email box was a surprise. A friend, who was ill, offered me her ticket to a Broadway musical. My first thought was “what about today’s projects, starting at 10 a.m.?” and my second was “don’t be a dumbbell. Figure out how you can fit some of them into Monday’s plans.”

What fun I had at The Great Gatsby a New Musical—the sets, singing, dancing, costumes, and characters were fabulous.

Do you think inflexibility is a personal trait? Is it impacted by living alone or amplified by the job you have?

Waiting for the show to start.

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15 Responses to “Service of How Flexibility Enhances Your Life”

  1. Hank Goldman Said:

    The older I get, the less flexible I get… Even though I see that several office mates of mine continue to do exciting things, like Broadway shows and traveling the world to see the sites… I have done that in my lifetime… And I should keep on… But don’t!!!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Hank,

    I find juggling, once one of my finest skills, harder to do now but I try to take advantage of opportunities that come my way. I think it’s especially important living alone.

  3. ASK Said:

    I think there’s an inherent laziness, a slowing down, with getting older…sort of “been there, done that.” It’s something I see occasionally in myself and in some good friends. I try to avoid it, but I do often wonder how I managed to accomplish as much as I did when I was working fulltime. Or maybe I did let things slide, I just don’t remember…!

  4. Linda Levi Said:

    Linda on Facebook: Part of your DNA, so to speak, IMO. It’s a shame because inflexible people miss out on so many things. Glad you enjoyed. I couldn’t imagine my beloved Fitzgerald/Gatsby as a musical. One friend, also a Fitzgerald devotee, didn’t like it. But art in the eye of the beholder!

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Linda,

    I understand your reluctance although curiosity to appraise an adaptation might entice you to see the musical yet. Brilliant exceptions of adaptations were made by Nora Ephron in, for example, “Sleepless in Seattle,” reminiscent of the classic film “An Affair to Remember,” {1957}, which was an adaptation of “Love Affair,” {1939}. I loved them all.

    In the musical I enjoyed the costumes, singing, dancing and sets–the videos so well done. As for a friend’s review of a show, at the time everyone I knew adored “Rent,” as did all the reviewers. However, I disliked it intensely.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    ASK,

    I doubt you let things slide ever.

    I’m much better at prioritizing now. Before, I forced myself to get everything done, working myself, as my mother used to say, “to the bone.” Now, I am much smarter. I know when to stop. Triage is my middle name.

    That said, I couldn’t get done now all that I used to, I’m sure, and as you wrote, I sometimes wonder how I did as much as I did.

  7. Linda Levi Said:

    Linda on Facebook: We may have opposite tastes when it comes to musicals as I liked Rent. As I said, art is in the eye of the beholder! I’ll pass on Gatsby the Musical.

  8. William Weathersby Said:

    Bill on Facebook: my then partner John, now a friendly cordial ex, absolutely despised RENT, while I liked it well enough. When we attended theater later as a non-couple, I hated Urinetown. He loved it. So it goes.

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Bill,

    Did you know my dear friend Marita Thomas, a brilliant trade editor? She was my guest to see “Rent” so was reluctant to criticize it but finally, she agreed with me. Guess it went over my head.

  10. William Weathersby Said:

    Bill on Facebook: Didn’t know Marita but the name rings a bell. Meanwhile I miss you! As for me, I just bought a modest condo in my same downtown Charlottesville neighborhood. First time owner! There is always hope. And musicals. 👍❤️🤪

  11. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Bill,

    Congratulations! All—and only— good things in your new apartment. Photos please! You’ll make it stunning.

  12. Martha Takayama Said:

    I think that inflexibility is an essentially a personal trait. I think it is as Linda, and you do a rather unfortunate one! I think as you miss out on all kinds of unanticipated things. It is also important to resist becoming inflexible even more so if you live alone.

    I adore the work of F. Sott Fitzgerald and would have loved to see the musical, although I don’t think it would be my favorite way to see his work presented. But clearly your flexibility was beneficial!

  13. Deb Wright Said:

    This is a great question. Nature or Nurture? I think if that as a child, you see inflexible behavior–the sheets MUST be washed on Monday–you tend to have that inflexibility. However, I believe that this inflexibility is also a way that people keep control in their lives. It is a comfort to them. My late in-laws were inflexible in their daily lives. Never, ever leave a dish or spoon in the sink: it must be washed right away! Another example is my friend, Ginny. She takes watercolor painting classes with me. She will do a “practice” painting just to make sure that the actual one is perfect. No one else in the class does this. She is that way about her home also. Incredibly clean, neat and organized. She shared with me that her father was like that and her sister also. She jokes about her inflexible behavior, but it does spill into her job. She is a very happy person. But I agree with you that being flexible or spontaneous opens many doors that add to our quality of life.

  14. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Martha,

    I’m a sucker for live performances and have a tolerance that many of my friends don’t. Some see many more in a month than I do, of late, in a year. Some friends walk out on a performance. I don’t think I ever have.

  15. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Deb,

    There are certain things I like to have done before I sit down at my laptop, so I am a little like Ginny. I want my bed made, bath or shower behind me, hand laundry washed, dishes put away.

    Otherwise I try to be flexible as that’s what life usually deals. Tech glitches, friends in a quandary, crises with a project, last minute invitations or deadlines tend to require it.

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