Away from the Maelstrom


Day in, day out. Wake up, check off tasks from the never-ending to-do list. Miss some. Save them for the next day. Go to bed.

Wake up. Check off tasks from the never-ending to-do list. Miss some. Save them for the next day. Go to bed.

Wake up. Check off tasks from the never-ending to-do list. Miss some. Save them for the next day. Go to bed.

Wake up.

marching
Along

It’s a vicious cycle, and an all-too-common one. But shouldn’t my days be more of note than this? Will I wake up one day and feel like my life was a waste of time and energy? Some of these goals that seem so important in the present will seem petty when I look back. Maybe I’ll even forget I ever had those goals. What exactly am I doing?

It feels all-consuming.

In the moment, meeting goals feels like success. Cross an item off the list, feel smug satisfaction. Cross of the largest item on the list—or, maybe one day, actually finish a list—and be filled with the glow of triumph. It makes a day feel purposeful. But are we only living for that momentary euphoria of achieving something? How long does that feeling truly stay with us? A day? Two days? And over time, that feeling becomes less and less fulfilling. A year ago, completing a certain task was the highlight of the week. Today, completing a similar task gives only a couple minutes’ worth of satisfaction. To top it off, it seems as if the time between euphoric moments stretches out longer and longer. It never comes often enough. Eventually, it’s a daily, mad scramble to find that high.

Check
Lists

Sounds like an addiction, right?

You can wait for someone to snap you out of it, or you can snap yourself out of it.

Walk away from that list for a day. If you’ve found yourself working most days, don’t do any work for a day. Use physical distance if that’s what it takes. Leave the neighborhood for a bit. Go find a friend and make something with no goal whatsoever in mind. Savor the process of doing, rather than the result of doing.

Try not to check your phone too often. Let time pass without watching it, measuring it. Don’t let the never-ending notifications remind you of yesterday’s worries.

Do the things that you feel compelled to do. Don’t overthink it. Don’t think twice. Just let the mood take you. Let the conversation flow organically. Eat when hunger strikes. Let the silences stretch out, unfilled with awkward sound and unneeded conversation starters. Let your hands get lost in the repetitive motion of making something. If your mind wanders, don’t put a leash on it. If a question bubbles to the surface, let it rise. Ponder ideas as they come, let them hide if they wish. Don’t feel inclined to ponder something just because someone said it’s important.

Free
Form

Listen for your instincts. They will be quiet at first, unsteady and unsure, not sure if they will be squashed another day. Let them regain confidence, and give them the attention you haven’t given them lately. Find your trust in them again.

As the light of the day dims, let your mind wind down. Let your daily rituals rest for a day. Go to bed.

Hopefully, like I did, you’ll find your body and mind a little more rested and content.

Wake up. Check off tasks from the never-ending to-do list.

But maybe this time I’ll find that some items are worthless. Others are now more paramount. Why does this list need to be never-ending, anyway?

Today things look different. How refreshing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *