Let me tell you about my day:
I woke up around 5am, the consequence of having drifted off to sleep early and relaxed last night. I lay in my warm bed in the dark snuggled up to my partner until the alarms went off at 5:15 and 5:20 (she likes a 5-minute “snooze” time).
I turned on the light and grabbed my 5-Minute Journal, stumbling over to my desk and starting to write down the three things I was grateful for at that moment. Natasha interrupted me with the reminder of a cold glass of water and the medication I have to take every day; I thanked her for that, and continued to write:
I am grateful for:
- Quality time with my partner.
- Drifting off to sleep.
- Friends in far-off cities.
Today will be great because:
- I will teach a great class in Chicago
- I will pack everything for my trip easily
- I will do my complete morning protocols.
Word Up: Enough.
Then I got dressed and went outside to warm up the car to get her to work by 6:30.
When I got back home, it was still dark. I grumbled and tossed out the yoga mat, wincing as my left knee reminded me that it’s forty-five years old. After a few asanas I turned on the coffee maker and sat zazen for fifteen minutes. Trying to “clear your mind” the day before you’re flying off for two weeks literally crossing the country is a very funny thought. I managed to remind myself to come back to here twice, though, and that’s enough for a win (high-five, Buddha!).
Pouring some coffee, I took it to my chair and pulled out my journal, letting the pleasure of a heavy fountain pen and a leather-bound book of thick paper draw the casual words from my mind and onto the lines. After a page I went back to the kitchen to make “Memphis Toast” – whole-grain bread slathered with sugar-free coconut peanut butter and banana slices. I sat back down in my chair and browsed the TED App to look for interesting talks. Navi Radjou’s talk on “frugal innovation” throughout the world seemed interesting, and I let him educate me as I enjoyed the breakfast. Then I logged it in the MyFitnessPal app, because my nutritionist (and a lot of research) says that’s a good idea.
Time to Write! But first…
Finally I decided to get my blog post (the one you’re reading) done, so that the one Absolutely Essential Task would be finished. On the spur of the moment I decided to work at my podium, looking out over the snow-covered trees outside my apartment. Of course, opening my laptop instantly alerted me to some emails I hadn’t replied to, and an event listing I needed to post, and another event that I needed to promote. Emails off to friends-I’ve-never-met on both coasts took care of the signal boost, and a quick addition of a web page to a client’s blog completed the task. I also discovered an event that I’d not yet added to my calendar nor told my partner about (both of which are recipes for disaster). After both of those were fixed, the event listing I’d created had generated two more emails – not urgent, but from people who would be grateful for a prompt reply.
Just about that time my knee reminded me that perhaps this whole standing-desk thing was not the way to go, and I turned away from my podium, feeling bad about being so diverted from my Absolutely Essential Task of writing the blog post (the one you’re reading). I had a momentary twinge of guilt, exacerbated by my recent deep thinking about following passion, because I wasn’t at a real job. I had just been futzing about in email, blog posting, etc, after all…and that’s when it hit me.
This is my life.
The emails that I sent, the events I planned, the blogs I wrote…these are the things that enable this warm apartment, the car that took my partner to work, the trips to visit friends in distant cities. It’s not a sensible job – there’s no job description that would even remotely describe how I earn my living.
But it is a living. Every part of it, from the way I went to sleep last night to the way my palms feel on my laptop right now, it is my life. For just a moment there I saw it as a whole thing – not a “work-life” balance, not a “passion/sensible” division, just one big whole piece of existing.
It wasn’t a bad feeling. What was startling was the two follow-up realizations: one, that anyone would bother to criticize someone else’s life as a whole, because how could they know? And two, the realization that I’ve got it good. Am I rich? Yes, because I have enough. Word up, indeed.
I’m not sure why it felt important to write this as the Life Post today. I’m certainly back in the to-do mode now, trying to find a decent conclusion to this post so I can go take care of the last few errands before packing. Perhaps the point is this: we spend a lot of time trying to tweak individual elements of our lives. Nothing wrong with that – it’s how we get through hard times happier. But maybe it’s important to remember that it’s more than the sum of its parts.
And so is everyone else’s.