We live in incredible times: efficient, productive, sensory explosive times! As a human race we have evolved ourselves and our capacities to remarkable places. Our ever-expanding abilities allow us to accomplish unbelievable feats everyday and we pride ourselves on these abilities to accomplish, to strive, and to perform. We are amazing! And yet somehow, although we are accomplishing more in a day than ever before, we still feel like we are behind. There is this scary pressure lurking all around, telling us that we need to do more, that there isn’t enough time, enough energy, and that we can’t do enough.
I am guilty. In some ways the guiltiest for this over-achiever, self pressurized, approach to life. I find a perverse pride in accomplishing more things in a day than some people would attempt in a week. If I follow my own story back, I can see I have been this way as long as I can remember. Whether this was in my nature or I was nurtured toward these inclinations, I am not sure.
What I do know for sure, is the elated feeling I get when I can accomplish an entire list in a day (and I have plenty of these lists). However, I am also very aware of the lingering weight these lists can leave on me when I have items that are left undone. I have days like this often. Days where items get carried from list to list. Sometimes, as I write things down, I know in my heart of hearts that they are not going to be accomplished. I even have the kind of days that my lists remain completely unchanged, or worse, they get longer and longer. The guilt that accompanies this crowded page is fierce.
So today, no list!
Yet, without writing anything down I know what NEEDS to get done today, and most days, really. The lists that I make, always exceeds what is necessary.
Today my challenge is to do only what absolutely needs to be done (make and eat food, teach my 2 flow classes, spend time with my husband). I aim to do these things today with as much awareness and presence as possible.
I don’t mean to lament accomplishment or being motivated to seize the day. In fact, I think we should seize the gifts and beauty of each day as much as possible, however many of us are running through life so fast, we can only stop and smell the roses when we have properly scheduled a time to do so. Many of us are caught up in a race that has no finish line and no one can win. A race against a list that isn’t even a true reflection of what is real and necessary to our lives.
I consider this conundrum often. I feel we have been fed a string of strange concepts that completely influence how we go about our day to day, loading ourselves with more tasks than ever before. We have been told that hard work and self-sacrifice will lead to great accomplishment accompanied by a deep, pervading happiness.
The problem is that the deep happiness we seek is like a mirage; it is somehow always moving farther away. Each time we arrive at a great accomplishment our deep happiness seems to have skipped slightly forward again. It is always just on the other side of the next accomplishment. We have lost our ability to stop and savor our efforts. Somehow along the way we have forgotten to just be happy! We are spending so much time trying to do EVERYTHING that we are not really fully experiencing ANYTHING.
There are a million things I COULD spend today doing. If I wanted to sit down and start making a list of things I could tackle I wouldn’t take long to fill my page. Instead I will save those things for another day and see what today might show me.
The gift of not always overloading and over scheduling ourselves is that we create space for life to happen. Making space for the simple joys of life is not something that can be captured on any list.