Years ago I developed a habit of taking care of business. I also developed a habit of not resting too easily until I had taken care of business. In some cases, I was satisfied when I had done as much work as was humanly possible for that day, even if there were still many things to do.
There were some glorious times. The feeling of resting and being at ease when one has accomplished much (at least by interpretation) is a magnificent state of being. For me, it is full of wonder, full of presence, and full of promise. It is free, base camp, home, the place where all things are possible because little or nothing is pending. Even taking a walk at the end of a day of accomplishment (or a walk as accomplishing something that day) is a taste of that wonder.
But, the busier I got, or in times where the to-do list was overwhelming, the more anxiety I seemed to develop–an anxiety that was not freeing, an anxiety that became something that needed to be attended to, another thing on a long list. And in this, I’ve not developed a very good strategy. The strategy of trying to take care of everything that needs to be done is an exercise in futility, even for the most organized among us.
For those that don’t have much to do, or are at a place where what there is to do falls well within one’s comfort zone, this linguistic dance may seem a bit odd. I’ve been there. For years I had nothing much to do but travel or ponder. It is well within my comfort zone to worry about where I’ll sleep or where will I next be able to shower or whether I shall spend the day musing, touring, talking, reading, or a combination of them all. These are things that do not tax me (or I do not tax myself).
But to raise a family, deal with the theory and reality of intimate relationships, be responsible for generating an income sufficient for contributing to a house, car, stuff, and children, as well as taking time for oneself, well that can be a lot of work for a brief period of freedom. And even that freedom comes with a price tag. Those vacations really take a lot of organizing and increased work on the front end to free up the time to go, and they take a lot of work on the back end taking care of all the stuff that wasn’t taken care of while you were gone. It’s outright exhausting.
So here I am, in the middle of a semester when things are the busiest. I’ve got lots of papers to grade, probably the least fun thing about being an educator, I’ve got meetings (no that may be the least fun thing), I’ve got students freaking out and trying every trick in the book to get out of responsibility (no, that may be the least fun thing), I’ve got position papers to generate, software programs to learn (does anyone out there know the definition and concept of “user-friendly?”), I’ve got to prepare for the summer session, etc., etc., etc.
And what do I have? Well, after having made a choice to begin with, the karmic wheel of that decision has returned a tanker load of anxiety, and I’m not even a big wheel. I’m a small fish in a small pond. This is nuts. I go to sleep early (10 to 11 p.m.) and I seem to wake up promptly around 3 a.m. I’m up for an hour trying to think through all the things and all the permutations that will be coming up, then I go back to bed and continue with my mind working like an out-of-control-train that is on a non-derailable track. And I wonder, what is happening here? What has invaded my body? Why won’t the damn thing shut-up? I’ve run through every possible pot hole in every possible road and I’m busy going back through it again.
It is one thing to figure out where all the potholes are, or will be (this pothole concept is a dynamic thing–sort of like the arcade game where one is supposed to hit the gophers that randomly pop-up) and it is another thing to just go down a pothole-less road, whatever or wherever that is.
And I’m supposed to keep my mind focused on what I want?
An interesting thing about obsessive/compulsive people is that they have a need to be in control, but if you ask them to relax, they can’t.
If I take all of the deep breaths I need to relax, I’ll hyperventilate and need a paper bag.
Sometimes I just need to be sarcastic. It may not seem like positive energy, but, by virtue of sarcasm alone, it can sure lead me to the absurdity of it all. And sometimes, when I can’t even believe my own self–well, that can be a good thing.
Maybe I won’t wake up at 3 a.m. this morning. But if I do, I’m guessing that I’m much more likely to be smiling about it all.
That’s got to be a bit more peaceful.