Archives for posts with tag: giving up the pole position in the rat race

…Home…work…home…work… Back and forth, pretty much continuously, distractingly interspersed with a couple days off, not quite convincing me that I have ample leisure. lol Omg – fuck this. I sigh and sip my coffee. I breathe, exhale, relax… And remind myself that the bills are paid, and this home is comfortably warm on a chilly morning. I had hot water – and indoor plumbing – and sweet smelling shower gel in my morning shower. This cup of coffee? Work was involved in that, too; coffee beans aren’t free. The electricity that ran the burr grinder? Paid for that, too, with money I worked for. So…okay. Work is thing, I guess I’m stuck with that for now.

…I’m so ready to get off this treadmill. Have been for a long time. It aggravates me to see articles about the need to “raise the retirement age” – let that shit be optional, voluntary, and self-determined! Damn – you think I want to be “gainfully employed”? Um… no. It’s just that our society is built on the exchanges of goods and services made possible by the additional exchange of currency. Currency that represents our labor (and in a most bitter and unfortunate additional bit of truth, the “exchange rate” of life force for currency is neither “fair” nor “equal” and some human beings are most definitely paid too little for their time, whereas others are paid far far more than any real value that could be assessed based their life or humanity). So… work. Home to enjoy. Work to pay for it. Back and forth.

It really does bug me when “retirement ages” are set such that they only account for those who wish to work longer. Of course, it would also bug me if the agency of adult human beings was undermined such that people who are capable and eager are forced out of the workforce solely due to their age. Either way, it’s the lack of agency I’m actually objecting to; we are not machines, we’re not all identical in appearance – or intention. Some people earnestly want to work in their later years – I’ve met a few. (Keeping things real, I’ve met far more who felt they had to continue working because they needed the money and were not financially prepared to retire.) I’ve also met people who are looking ahead to retirement before they were 30. (I’m one of those, but I’m also likely going to be someone who has to keep working due to not being financially prepared to retire.)

Sipping coffee thinking about the work-life treadmill on a Thursday. Of course, I have choices, and I mull them over now and then, fully aware I could, perhaps, paint full time (and be creatively contented and probably below the poverty line), or go into business in my working profession as an independent consultant, or do some other work I’d never considered but is incredibly lucrative – people who have freed themselves from the treadmill do exist. I just don’t happen to be one of them. lol This morning I’m tired, and I woke with a headache from a dream that I was commuting to work driving my car backwards. lol Too many late-ish nights, not enough sleep? Another sip of coffee, and an internal commitment to going to bed “on time” tonight, is the only result of my fatigue-y cynicism.

The truth is, I’m good at my profession. I’ve chosen to continue it a couple times after attempting to escape it. I’m pretty skillful at the “going to work every day” thing, in a way that quite a few people I know are not. I support myself, loved ones, and creative endeavors through these skills, and I feel satisfied with all of that. I’m just tired this morning and yearning for a freedom from routine that I not only don’t have – I’m neither comfortable with, in fact, nor skilled at managing well. lol It is what it is. (This sort of thing is specifically why I don’t make major decisions while deeply fatigued or stressed out; my thinking changes when I am relaxed, and able to face challenges from an emotionally neutral, practical perspective, and I make very different decisions.)

Choices. Verbs. The things that are. The things that are not – or are not, yet. The wheel keeps turning. If I don’t like my circumstances, there are alternatives. If I don’t like the person I see myself becoming, I can make changes. If I don’t like the conversation going on around me, I can walk on. Hell, even when the conversation I’m not enjoying is the internal “conversation” going on with myself, I can definitely “fix that” – I can begin again. 😉

I woke this morning, early, with a stern parental shout still ringing in my ears from my dream, “Slow down in this house! It’s not a race!” I turned off the alarm before it went off, and got up – making a point to indeed actually slow myself down; there’s simply no need to rush.

I make a point of planning my time so that I don’t need to rush in the mornings. This morning I made a point to really take that one to heart in a more mindful way, not just by counting on having more minutes before departure time, but also seriously slowing myself down. Meditation without a timer. Lingering in the sensuous warmth of the shower. Brushing my teeth awake and aware, and enjoying the sensation of tooth-brushing-as-a-process. Letting the casual touch of hand to skin as I dressed become something more like an appreciative caress. I spend a lot of a time with the woman in the mirror – I have no good reasons for treating her poorly, dismissively, or in any way lacking affection. I am enjoying the morning, slowly, patiently, attentively.

Making my coffee this morning became a further exploration of mindfully caring for myself. No stress. No pressure to achieve perfection. That’s not at all the point of mindful self-care; it’s just about being right here, right now, doing these things with great care, and great awareness, savoring the processes of life, itself. My coffee is exceptionally good today, without any particular additional effort; I simply made a point of showing up ‘in person’ – real, and awake, and aware, and comfortable with doing this thing, right now, with my whole attention.

A great coffee in the morning is a practice, a ritual, a measure of time, and a way to take care of me.

A great coffee in the morning is a practice, a ritual, a measure of time, and a way to take care of me.

Right now, too. This process is the one about writing a few words in the morning, getting my intellect and my heart synced up for the day, and moving forward together – if not with some plan in mind, at least able to capitalize on what I am learning, and able to understand that there is always more to this than what I think I know, and that we are each having our own experience. This moment in the morning, when I am most likely to write, is my opportunity to reflect, to gain perspective, and to do it in a safe space with good ground rules that protect me from poor practices, OPD, and self-defeating rumination. (When I write in the evenings, it is often because I am in emotional pain, and reacting to circumstances using any practical tools at hand to get a grip on myself – it’s quite different.) When I sit down very inspired, I sometimes fail myself on practicing good self-care practices, losing myself in the moment, slumped over my keyboard, leaning into the visual space of the monitor, typing away aggressively, enthusiastically, brains spilling all over fingers, becoming words – this morning, although I feel inspired, I approach my desk, and this process, with consideration for this fragile vessel. I begin with deliberation, and deep breaths. I am attentive to my posture. The resulting writing may not be of any different quality – but my back hurts less, I am making fewer spelling mistakes, and struggling less with my dying mouse.

When I rush through things, I make more mistakes, miss details, and feel a greater sense of urgency that generally becomes a more noteworthy amount of stress. This is an important detail, this morning; it is Monday. Time to get back to work after a long weekend. Definitely having the sense that my employer may have begrudged me the time I needed for me, there’s the temptation to rush into things. I could have gotten up quickly, thrown on my clothes after a bracing shower, and quickly marched into the office to become a good productive cog in the corporate machinery, getting a ‘head start’ on all the work I had ‘fallen behind’ on… just thinking the thoughts got my heart racing a little, my breathing became more shallow, my body began to prepare for fight or flight… Shit, it’s just a job! It does not require all that. So – yes. I slowed things down this morning, because there’s no reason to rush; it’s not a race. Remember ‘the rat race’? Sure, it’s still going – it’s a real thing, and lots of people participate, consuming themselves over the course of a lifetime for whatever pittance is paid to them for their trouble. My opinion? No amount of cash is enough to sacrifice the pleasure of really living life. Even my work suffers, when I rush myself. So… I’ve stopped racing. I’ll just walk this one, thanks. (It’s not as if there were ever any chance of ‘winning’ the rat race. “The cake is a lie.”) 🙂

Time well-spent following my own path.

Time well-spent following my own path.

The weekend was lovely. Long forest hikes among lush greenery, on twisting paths, up hills, and down…and relaxed evenings spent on creative endeavors. It mattered to get out among the trees. It mattered to have the powerful reminder in the ever-present sounds of distant traffic that the thing I was trying to escape is something I carry with me. It mattered to take a few days just for me, no interruptions from work, or routine communication from loved ones, or urgent pressure to get this or that done. My only fixed agenda being to take the very best care of me. It mattered to me to spend time sketching, writing, painting. I sought stillness – and I found it. Strangely, I found it at home, and within myself, to my very great delight (after the frustration of discovering I could not easily escape the sounds of traffic)…and yes, there are verbs involved (and my results varied).

The journey doesn't always take me far from home.

The journey doesn’t always take me far from home.

I reset my expectations of myself over the weekend. Had some important conversations with the woman in the mirror about how she makes use of her time. Set some important boundaries with myself about time, and what I want most of that precious limited commodity. When I am feeling more than usual stress, the easy thing is more distractions: YouTube videos, favorite t.v. shows, movies, Facebook… I can kill a lot of time with any one of those things. There’s no constructive point, later, in moaning about “not having enough time for me” if I am letting brain candy soak up those minutes of lifetime that could be spent meditating, relaxing in a hot bath, gardening, writing, reading, enjoying the company of friends in my actual presence doing some actual thing… It’s down to the verbs and the choices. It is sometimes necessary to slow myself down, to be aware of how quickly the time does pass. Being rushed stresses me out…slowing things down generally has quite the opposite result, and I face Monday feeling calm and prepared, unworried, patient with myself and the world, and feeling well-rested and well-cared-for. I found the stillness in the spaces between other things, once I slowed down enough to notice it waiting for me there.

A helpful change in perspective, and time spent listening deeply to my own heart, is a good place to find inspiration - and stillness.

A helpful change in perspective, and time spent listening deeply to my own heart, is a good place to find inspiration – and stillness.

Today is a good day for stillness, for calm, and for slowing things down long enough to savor both in the moment. Today is a good day to enjoy living life – without rushing through to the end. Today is a good day to decline urgency, in favor of appreciation, and to refuse to be hurried in order to enjoy right now. Today is a good day to slow down enough to enjoy the world.