To stop feeling eternally rushed, like a headless chicken. Is it even possible? To stick with maxims, I almost always feel like I’m behind the eight ball, that is, pressured and pushed to catch up, or stay afloat, or do the “have to’s” on my old, tattered list so that I can entertain the “want-to’s”.
Do not get me wrong. Life is not void of down time. I am not behind on looking at Facebook or Instagram, I watch plenty of Steven Universe and even the occasional Rick Steves’ Europe with my daughter, and almost every night, when everyone else is in bed, I get to take a bath and read until my eyelids get heavy.
The rushing feeling comes from trying to squeeze in focused work while also managing my kids, from digging out of boxes and laundry baskets on weekends (often ending with a bigger mess than when I started), and having tasks that need attention Right Now pop up in the middle of doing an equally-urgent task.
Having kids, and kids at home during a pandemic, amplifies the rushing, but I first noticed it when I quit my full-time librarian job to go freelance (without a clear plan for exactly what I would be freelancing as). I’d wake up in the morning, get a cup of tea, go down to my basement office and proceed to “thrash” — this is a word my computer geek husband introduced me to to help explain the feeling of spreading one’s attention so broadly and so thin that it’s effectively impossible to focus on or achieve anything. It looks like having a hundred browser tabs open and feeling like I’ve got to get to the bottom of my Facebook feed before digging in to real work. Like checking every internal messaging and project management system for updates before deciding what to do next. Like starting the dishes and then remembering the laundry and stopping to clean the litter box on the way downstairs.
I’ve noticed that an antidote to thrashing seems to be sitting still. Staying in one room, or on one tab, or turning away from my desk and staring far out the window. A few rounds of nadi shodhana. Closing the door. Closing the other tabs. Holding my mind in one room.
My wish is to remember to practice this. To stay in place and dig in, to settle, and hope that helps me move from thrashy states to those states I don’t feel caught up enough to allow: creativity, stillness, observation, eventually shifting from input to output.