I’ve learned a lot this weekend. I have learned that I am not an infinite resource. This may sound blindingly obvious. Intellectually I know I’m not an infinite resource, but nonetheless I’ve spent most of my life acting like I can push and run and whatnot indefinitely. I really, really can’t.
I’ve spent a lot of the last few days lying down. Which of course isn’t productive! It’s clearly time for a radical rethink. At the top of the list is ‘more rest’. We have some new household rules. No one starts work before eight in the morning, and no one works after 8 at night (unless they’re excited about something and need to follow the inspiration). There will be other reshuffles to the day.
I need to tackle the underlying thinking. I need to stop treating effort like virtue, especially when the effort is impacting on my health. I recognise that I am someone whose identity is deeply tied up in ‘doing’ and I am not going to take myself apart to change that – it would not, I feel, be good for me. However, I can re-think ‘doing’. Taking care of my body counts as ‘doing’. Feeding my imagination can go on the ‘doing’ list and so can investing time in my marriage. Meditation is ‘doing’.
I realise that my ‘doing’ has been too much about appeasing an observer. This is not irrational, but there’s no one watching me now who will criticise me. I don’t have to keep appeasing the people who expected me to look busy. Much of the stuff I really need to be ‘doing’ doesn’t look busy from the outside, but it’s no less valuable. No one else has to see it.
The most productive things happen at the margins. The edge of the comfort zone is the best place for innovation. I need to backtrack and find it. I realise I’ve spent a lot of years mostly outside my comfort zone, and that’s no more productive a place than always playing it safe. I end up too afraid and too tired to be creative, and that’s not clever. So in the short term, I will be pulling back (perhaps not visibly) to find my comfort zone, and to get comfortable in it, so that I can go out to the edges from there in a hopefully more meaningful and sustainable sort of way.