Friday, September 28, 2007

Managing Life and Changing Times

I've been doing some personal excavating tonight. My desk at home is always covered with piles of stuff. Piles. The fact that my hands haven't been crushed by those piles careening onto the keyboard qualifies as a small miracle.

So, I've been going through piles - filing, tossing, shredding, and wondering. It's that last one that is the reason piles accumulate, I think. I'm not sure what to do with something so I just put it aside. Then, eventually, that grows into an infamous pile, which I continue to add to. When I finally do get around to going through things, many of the pieces of paper I couldn't bear to part with initially because I might want to do something with them are no longer important - a date has passed or for some other reason they're immaterial now.

But, this doesn't stop me from making new piles. I know all those rules about how you should only handle a piece of paper once, have a certain time each day to return phone calls, etc. etc. etc. Who does that? Who lives a life that works like that? Not me and not anyone I know.

Stuff comes into my world at a far greater rate than I could ever process on a daily basis. So, I wait until the things that aren't urgent are outdated and then it takes no brain power to process them. I've recognized this problem of too much stuff coming into my life for some time, but cannot figure out how to deal with it. I had my mail held while I was in Kentucky and after just five days, the stack was about eight inches tall when I picked it up. And that's just the mail - my personal mail - it doesn't take into account email or phone calls or anything work related, where stuff also arrives at a pace I can't maintain. Email floods in from the national office, with complex details and issues. Meanwhile I'm working to keep the daily stuff going.

So much of what arrives at my inboxes, my mailboxes and my doors is so overwhelming - in quantity and topic - that I end up ignoring it unless it's urgent. I don't like feeling like I'm never caught up - never on top of things. I don't know how to manage it all.

I used to say I wanted the world to stop for a few days so I could catch up. Then it was a month I wanted it to stop. Then it was about six months. Now I think I probably need about 10 months of nothing coming into my world to just deal with the stuff already in it.

Of course, people could rightly point out that I could give up the time I spend writing, painting, blogging, doing Christmas, going to events, working on my house, seeing friends, etc. But those things restore me. The other things take from me. I cannot give up the things that nourish my soul or I will have nothing left to give to the other parts of my life. So many of the things I must do seem designed to try and suck the very life out of me.

I always seem to need more hours in the day to do everything I need and want to do. It's certainly not a matter of me not working. I don't think anyone who knows me would ever use the word "lazy" to describe me. I rarely stop, even for a few minutes, from the time I get up until I go to bed. I don't lay down on the couch when I get home. I come in the door and keep going. I haven't actually watched television without doing something else in at least 15 years, except when ill enough to be bedridden. If I'm at the computer I'm working on something - work or personal. I never waste time waiting for appointments - I always have something with me to work on. I even spend very few hours resting every day - rarely more than six - so I'm not sleeping my life away either.

One of the things I found tonight while excavating was my ticket to a performance series here. I haven't ever attended one of their events, but I buy the ticket every year to support it. There are a couple of things this year I might actually go to. Regardless, they send with the ticket a set of stickers for you to put on your calendar, to remind you of the dates. Honestly, I looked at them for a few seconds before I figured out what I was supposed to do with them. I haven't kept a paper calendar for the last 2-3 years. So, the stickers went in the trash - what would I do with them.

It's much like when I have to pay a bill by actually writing a check and putting it in the mail. It's so archaic. Frankly, I'm ticked off that I have to spend time doing either thing. So, I simply don't do business with anyone who requires that of me anymore. If automatic payment isn't available I'll use someone else's service. I want it to just happen seamlessly every month without me having to be involved. I still have to do it for the MHA and it seems so bizarre to me. Fortunately, we don't have a lot of monthly bills.

When I took this job about 5 years ago I was shocked to see two typewriters in the office. I actually turned to one of my board members who was with me and said, honestly, "Whatever will I do with a typewriter?" Type, of course, is the answer. But I never, ever opened either of them. Finally, a few months ago I found another non profit that wanted them. What do you do with a typewriter these days other than use it to create cool, actually typed paper for art projects? I recently put an actual typed envelope into one of my bits and pieces books. I haven't gotten one in years - many years - so I kept it. It's definitely a last gasp of a bygone era. Like so many things from bygone eras, it's charming in it's own way, but I don't want to go back.

The world changes very quickly these days. It's a struggle to keep up. Now, if you'll excuse me I need to go check out my new SpiralFrog membership. Always something new...

No comments: