Sunday, November 14, 2010

One Foot in Front of the Other

Have an unending to-do list? Or maybe just unable to relax because of a nagging feeling there's something you're supposed to be doing? Do you make a decision to do one thing, then dread the consequences of not choosing another? Struggle to live "in the moment" and give the person you're with your full attention?

I am not living that way, habitually - not anymore. But there are times I feel such patterns forming again.  And at the moment I'm vulnerable.

I'm heading into another week without any down time to set it off from the week before. Monday through Friday was pretty busy. Saturday, too, was full of activity. Then I had to hit the road early Sunday morning for 12 hours of travel. Now I'm in Florida, and it's about time for bed. A full week of meetings starts at 8 am, Eastern time. Even as I feel a bit resentful about not getting a day "off," I'm also scheming, in another part of my brain, about how many other things I can squeeze into the margins between meetings...

Oooh, wait. That's not how I want to live my life, is it? If I'm overloaded and trying to catch up or get ahead, how will I be able to give myself freely to the people I've come here to spend time with - not be nervously looking at my watch or itching to check my email?

I was journaling and praying about this on the plane. What I felt God showed me was that if I am serious about creating that space where I can be fully present to listen to, honor, and enjoy other people, it will take two things: rest and preparation.
  1. Rest: I'll have to let go of any expectations I might have about doing it all, just trust God and relax. Chill.
  2. Prepare: With things that, when examined under the light, still seemed important to do and do well, I'll have to set aside the time to pay attention to those things. Actually work on them.
Just beware what can happen if you try to do both at once. There's a time for everything, but you can't do it all at the same time, and these two can be a deadly combo. When you're trying to relax, and failing, and trying to think something through, but just sort of in the back of your mind - well, it just leaves you worried and fretful, neither relaxed nor prepared.

It's like what would happen if you tried to put your right foot forward and your left foot forward at the same time.

OK, maybe you'd manage to "hop." But probably not. If you did hop, you probably couldn't keep hopping indefinitely; it would wear you out fast. And even on the first try it's just as likely you'd collapse in a heap, hurting yourself and maybe somebody else, too.

Ouch. OK. One foot in front of the other.

So, for me, for today? I wrote it all out, did triage, identified the "work" that needs to be done, then got lost in a novel for an hour or two. Met my coworkers at the airport, and spent several hours actively engaged with them. Now that's over for the evening and it's time to rest again. Set the alarm to make sure I get some time to myself in the morning before it all begins again.

One foot, then the other. 

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