Practice Out of Time

I’ve hinted at it in posts here and there, but you’ve probably figured it out already: I tend to keep busy. Too busy, in fact. Looking at the “List of Signs You’re Burning Out” (see infographic below), I fit…one, two, three – yep, all of them. What does that mean?

Well, obviously, it means I need to drink more coffee (that’s the same as sleep, right?), join a gym, schedule in a trip to the park in between my clients so that I can work hard to relax…

Hmm. As a friend of mine recently pointed out, when you’re “looking forward to having a weekend off for a change” you may be a bit unclear on the whole concept of leisure.

Eliminate, Lest Ye Be Eliminated

The fact is, as I’m discovering, if you don’t simplify your life, your life will be simplified for you. I recently interviewed and was passed over for a position on a local community center board. I had hoped to help with their education curriculum for the community, something I’m passionate about. In fact, they had already heard of me and my work and approached me initially about the position.

So, should I be mad that they then decided I wasn’t suitable for the board? No, I am thankful, because what this means is that a bunch of smart people – smarter than me – took a look at my life through the narrow lens of a resumé, an interview, and some references, and were able to interpolate correctly that I’m too damn busy. I traveled too much to be able to hold the position, they told me, but would love to hear from me again when I wasn’t gone so much from the community.

The result of me not eliminating some social commitments from my schedule? Things that I want to do get eliminated for me.

The Body Knows

Or another example: at a campout where I was teaching a movement workshop, I severely injured my knee. I did not injure it in any of the following of my activities:

  • Dancing around a bonfire
  • Teaching live-action role-players stage combat moves
  • Wrestling with a vicious rock-climbing spider monkey (or something similar)
  • Jumping onto a dock from a rowboat
  • Climbing a ladder to rig a swing in a tree
  • Walking to and from my campsite, across rough gravel and root-overgrown paths
  • Loading an entire tree into a truck for the aforementioned bonfire

Nope. I was able to do all those things just fine. But when I was horsing around a bit near a picnic table, I was going to gracefully step up onto the bench – when my foot hit the side, twisted my knee, and I’ve been limping ever since.

It’s been over a week. It’s starting to heal a bit, but whatever I did to it, it was not good. Except it kind of was, because before that I was ignoring all the signs that were saying Slow the [BLEEP] down, Gray.

So instead, my body slowed me down. I can’t run, bike, heck, I can barely handle stairs, and it has slowed my entire life down. This is a good thing. This is my body saying “If you won’t keep to a reasonable pace, buddy, a reasonable pace will be kept for you.

Stop and Smell the – ooh, Bunnies!

The difficulty lies in the ADHD world we create for ourselves. It’s so easy to cram things in, to wring that one more experience out of every second, that micro-therblig of efficiency out of “down” time.

Here’s a clue: there is no “down” time. There’s no “up” time either. In fact, there’s no time. It’s a modern convention, a pleasant conceit we use to convince ourselves we have some control over the world. What I end up doing is trying to pack too much into time, rather than letting things happen when they will.

Trusting that they will happen when they need to. Or they won’t, and whatever happens instead is what was supposed to anyway, in spite of my expectations. And maybe, just maybe, figuring out how to do less so that I can do more of it. “Illumination through Elimination”, as Havi, put it on

How about you? I’m sure you don’t have much free time; but do you have any time you can free?



1 thought on “Practice Out of Time”

  1. Ouch! 6/7 signs of burnout apply here (and I’m not at all surprised)…at least I’m currently taking a vacation – there might be hope for me! 😉

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