Thursday, January 1, 2015

My great undoing

I'm definitely a resolution-maker. I know it's falling out of fashion, but I still love cracking open my notepad every January 1st, thinking back on the year behind me, and focusing my intentions for the year before me. These musings are usually a colorful, chaotic affair, not a neat or organized list. There are usually several colors of ink and pencil, lots of lines and arrows and doodles, and I have been known to sketch out a pie chart. 

"The big pieces of the patchwork quilt
that is my life are solidly in place,
but it's in the seams and intersections
where things tend to get a bit wonky."
I have my foibles, but am generally a pretty "together" person. My marriage, and my relationships with family and friends are happy, healthy, and solid. I put myself through many years of schooling for a career with great personal meaning, and started a business ten years ago of which I am immensely proud. I'm healthy, with reasonably good habits when it comes to diet and exercise. A marathon runner! Must be doing it at least most of the way right. Right? On paper (or rather, on whatever electronic media you're using to reading this) it all adds up fairly well. The big pieces of the patchwork quilt that is my life are solidly in place, but it's in the seams and intersections where things tend to get a bit wonky. My days and weeks are over-scheduled. I struggle to focus at work. My house is always a mess. I have dozens of interests (besides running) that I can't ever seem to make time for. I haven't figured out the meaning of life. And am I saving enough for retirement? Like most prone to introspection and self-examination, I'm eternally off-kilter, on an endless quest to figure out the things I need to do differently.

Do, do, do.

I may not construct my annual list of resolutions in a linear fashion, but I'm nonetheless a compulsive daily "to do" list-maker. I'm always running off of at least three different lists - things to do today, things to do this week, and things to do this month. And odd as it may seem, I can't say I even get any satisfaction from checking things off of those lists. I never finish them, and don't really try. I just re-write them each morning, leaving off the things that either got done, or that I've decided can be moved or eliminated. I've never once ended the day with a completed list, but from those daily checklists I can eke out a vision of what I would look like if someday I really, truly had my act together. The current vision goes something like this: I'd work enjoyable 8-hour days (or maybe shorter!) while my business thrived. I'd be fit and fast enough to qualify for - and run - the Boston Marathon. I'd occasionally be able to see the bottom of my laundry basket and I wouldn't have to hurry and clean my bathroom every time someone was coming over. I'd be active in my community, and volunteer for causes I care about. I'd visit family and spend time with friends often, and be the kind of person who reads two books a month, travels frequently, blogs weekly, crafts and sews things for fun, remembers everyone's birthday, and knows how to play that dusty mandolin I bought fourteen years ago. I would be awesome, you guys. And I'd never miss my eight hours of sleep.

What I'm finally starting to figure out, after forty years of doing, is that what I'm really after is not a check-marked list of things I have done. What I'm really after is that vision of who I could be. I finally know that I can't really do all of those things - at least not all at once. I am just not cut of that cloth. I'm no introvert, but I still need time to be quiet and reflective, and an occasional day with nothing on the calendar. And I need some space in my life for spontaneity. Recently my best friend from high school found herself in San Diego at the last minute for a couple of days of work. There wasn't one single unscheduled, unobligated hour within those two days that I could slip away and meet my old friend for a cup of coffee. While those two days were surely filled with many of the things I want to do in my life, I realized sadly that they weren't making me into who I want to be. The individual squares of the patchwork quilt were lovely, but it was sewn together all wrong.

So this year, my resolutions aren't about what I want to do (or not do) in 2015. Today I'm spending that time thinking about who I want to be. It's going to take some doing to undo my habit of doing. But I can do it! Wait, no ....

1 comment:

  1. OMG! I just wrote the best, most thoughtful comment that was deleted b/c I wasn't currently logged in. Anyhow, just appreciating your openness and feeling kindred on countless quests for more meaning and tapping the true self. Must have more time to just be.