Now. Now. Now. Sometimes it feels like everything needs to be done right now. That I need a few more of me, so that I can just handle this one moment and all that’s in front of me. And in my head.
Only what if that’s not true?
What if there’s really nothing, or at least very little, that needs to be done right now? What if all of it could wait?
I need to meditate, so that I stay up with the new Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra meditation series. Only, will the world fall apart if I fall another day behind? (Although I do feel good when I meditate. Maybe that one I’ll do.)
I need to write more blog posts, so that I have one to post this afternoon, and more for when I need them. Only, will anyone really really be upset if I don’t post one this afternoon? (Although I do like having some already written, so I don’t feel pressured when I’m too busy to write.)
I need to catch up on some work, even though it’s Sunday. Only, do I really have to? Other than what I’ve promised to my partner, will it matter if I let any other stuff drop? Sure I’m “supposed” to reach out to clients to stay in touch, but if I put it off a day or two (or a week), will anyone but me notice? (This one I don’t really have an “although” about, although I do feel good when I’m caught up and even ahead.)
I need to find a place to stay for my trip to Madrid with my daughter. Okay, that one I really really do have to, and want to, do.
But so many of these are made-up pressures in my head. Or self-imposed deadlines and to-do lists. And I have a choice about whether or not I do them. And how I feel if I do, or don’t do, them.
Years ago, when my daughter was in middle school, she was caught in this internal pressure to always be doing something productive. It was as if she felt she couldn’t rest. That blowing things off, and taking time for nothing important, was wasting time.
She had an amazing teacher who caught her at this. He called out the constraints and stress she was forcing on herself (or that she was, maybe, learning from me). And he taught her a very simple question, and answer, to pose to herself, when she felt like she was doing something wrong.
As she sat on the ottoman in our living room, flipping through a catalog, and felt a wave of guilt, she could ask herself, “Am I wasting time?” and then answer, “No, I’m choosing to spend it like this.”
As she lay on her bed daydreaming, rather than doing her homework, or quilting, or reading a philosophical novel, she could ask herself, “Am I wasting time?” and then answer, “No, I’m choosing to spend it like this.”
I can remember that this afternoon. I can pick up a novel, just because I’m enjoying reading it. I can look out the window at the beautiful fall trees, just because they’re beautiful fall trees. I can ask myself, “Am I wasting time?” And then I can answer, “No, I’m choosing to enjoy this right now.”
And then I’ll go meditate, and write a few blogs so that I can feel ahead.
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