Watchers and Doers

In the Neil Simon play Barefoot in the Park, Corie tells her new husband Paul that in this world there are watchers and doers.  She explains that she is a doer and that he is merely a watcher. She is very smug about the fact that she has chosen the better part. Later in the play Paul is able to tell her that now she is the watcher and he is the doer, again proving that life isn’t so black and white and that none of us plays the same part all of the time.

I have always felt that I am a doer. I don’t relax or handle idle time well. I don’t understand boredom, there is so much to do and I try to use my days as constructively as possible. I am interested in many things and always have a lot I want to accomplish.

I have always been the person who can’t just go to a party. Before I know it, I am helping the hostess to clean up. Not because I am this amazingly helpful person, but because I need to be doing something. (And I hate small talk, but that’s another story!)

I have come to the realization that I jump in and try to fix or handle things that are not really mine to fix. When I realized that I was doing that last year, I stopped myself and said out loud, “I have got to quit stressing about things that are not mine to stress about!!”

The person who was working with me said, “We need t-shirts that say that!” And then we both turned to watch the person who should have been stressing out, relaxing and laughing on their phone.

At that point I made a vow to myself to quit pushing so hard. I often feel like I am the old car in a movie that has been painted up with JUST MARRIED and that everyone around me are the cans tied on back. I see myself zooming along at full speed and everyone else being drug along behind, whether they want to be or not.

I am “gettin’ her done” and woe to the person who gets in the way.

I have done pretty well trying to be a watcher and not so much of a doer this past few months. I have tried to really listen to my inner voice and the nudges I feel to sit back sometimes and to follow my own path instead of trying to work on everyone else’s path.

I felt the nudge a few months ago to skip a project I normally would have been headlong into. My inner voice kept telling me to stay out of it. And I did. It went against my nature and my better judgement, but I kept my distance and I am glad I did.

As the project came to an end, I found myself jumping in inadvertently. As I was doing manual labor to help out, I looked around and saw several people who were involved sitting around on their phones, or wandering aimlessly, trying to look busy but not succeeding. It was at that moment that I realized I had back slid. This was not my thing to stress (or physically strain myself) about.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a doer and I will work my ass off if you need me. I would rather go to bed worn slap out and feel like I have done all that I can to help in pretty much any situation, than sit idly by. But you have to meet me at least part of the way.

If it is your project, you should probably put in at least a little effort if you want me to help. You should take the lead and I will gladly be a follower.

I have to learn not to go in full force, ready to take over and make sure things are done. I have to learn that if someone else fails, then maybe that was a lesson THEY needed to learn. I have to remember that the world turns without me, so other things can happen without my “help.”

I have a friend that thinks her mission in life is to always have a project saving someone. Tim calls her “mother hen” behind her back. She will dump me in a heartbeat if she can go save whomever her project du jour is.

I will say, I don’t usually try to “save” individuals. I decided a long time ago that Jesus saves people, I can’t. It is rather presumptuous of me to try.

But in jumping into other people’s projects, I in essence say to them, “I don’t think you can handle it. I think I can do this better than you can.” And that is not very kind or helpful.

If I am not so sure what my purpose is, why in the hell am I jumping into yours?

I have upcoming projects and I want to focus on them and do my part. And if you ask for my help, I will be there as soon as I finish writing this. But I am done jumping in when I have no business doing more than what I have been asked to do. If it is your idea, your responsibility, then handle it. Tell me what you need, but do not expect me to fix it for you.

I am not your momma, I am not your handler, I am not your babysitter. I am a doer. And I will do what I can. But I need to learn to be a watcher more often. And I need to learn that my help sometimes isn’t really helping, it is enabling.


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Marietta is a graduate of the University of Montevallo with a BFA in musical theater. She has been performing for over 50 years on the stage and continues to perform, direct and teach. Marietta is married to Tim, has a son named Jon, and a cat named Penny.