I am struggling to find balance this morning. I feel it most as I fight off the impulse to rush into the office ahead of schedule, even before the building is unlocked to all the staff. I recognize there is no rational purpose to doing so, and that doing so is not likely to provide relief of the subtle tension that has built since yesterday evening. I struggle to ‘let it go’ – I’m prone to remaining fixated on things that have urgency or importance projected into them by others; I feel the urgency as an emotion, and a compulsion to act. I’m not saying this is a peculiar thing, or that it is not shared by many, it is simply my experience this morning.

It began last night, actually. Just as my traveling partner and I exchanged well-wishes for a night of good rest, someone on my team at work texted me to alert me that a system change did not (or maybe did not) go as planned; all seemed well, except he himself was no longer able to access our system on his own credentials. Damn it. Texts were exchanged. I sync’d my work email and caught up on the relevant thread and without meaning to at all… I was ‘at work’ and working. After a while I realized that I was not going to be able to do the best possible troubleshooting from the perspective and information I had, and also faced needing to rest for the next day… and that’s when I realized I was caught in the sticky web of some other agenda than my own, and at risk of treating myself badly. Yep. That matters more.

I put the work on pause. Silenced my phone. Dimmed the household lights that remained. I took a seat on my meditation cushion, and took steps to distance myself from work in order to sleep. It took awhile. It took almost an hour of meditation, appropriate medication, and another half an hour of recreational reading to calm my mind such that sleep was possible. I woke once, around 1 am. Work thoughts surfacing in dream content woke me; there were mistakes in the dreaming that got my attention, and in my dream I began troubleshooting all over again. What woke me was a mistake that would not respond to action taken to resolve it. I got up to pee, and returned to sleep with relative ease. When the alarm went off this morning, some portion of my consciousness was already fully awake, although my body was still asleep, and – you guessed it – I was ‘working’ already. šŸ˜¦

I was up and dressed to leave so quickly, it was necessary to halt myself and undress in order to have a shower; I was about to leave for work, without a shower, coffee, or actually taking care of myself in any way at all. Foolish, and although in some moments that sort of urgency may have it’s place, I’ve not seen it rewarded much in life in any practical fashion of lasting value; it drives stress, high blood pressure, and inefficiency. CulturalĀ programming puts way to much focus on work/employment concerns as it is. At a distance, I recognize that being prepared, skilled, and efficient don’t require urgency, compulsion, or reactivity – practicing the more balanced calmer approach to work is complicated by an environment and society that continues to react, to be compelled, and to find all matters related to work to be ‘urgent’, when indeed they simple are not. So… I struggle some this morning to maintain a sense that I am my own highest priority at this hour of the day, not yet in the office, coffee in front of me. I breathe, and let it go – again. I find my mind coming back to the problem, and again I breathe and let it go. Now is not the time for that. ‘Now’ is time for me, particularly this now, so early in the morning, carved out of each day specifically for my own needs.

My consciousness still feels encroached upon inappropriately, and the ‘tug of war’ between me, what I need myself, and that ‘foreign presence’, the demands of employment. I fuss, back and forth, picking up the thread on the work puzzle, reminding myself of my own needs and putting it aside again. Back and forth. Woven into the fabric of my morning, even filling my words, here, with work. I sip my coffee, and take a few moments to relax, and listen to the soft music in the background, to be present, even noticing the chill of the room, and making room in my experience for distant sounds of traffic, the hum of the refrigerator, to notice my tinnitus seems unusually loud, to feel and to breathe. As ‘now’ becomes more prominent, work falls away again. It is a strange sort of dance, back and forth. I don’t care for it at all, and the morning is less than ideally comfortable.

I think about what I need most to care for myself, and what I may need this evening. I recognize that I am ‘pushing myself too hard’, although I am doing all I know to do to pull back on that, my greatest success is awareness, this morning, more than any real change. Practicing, always practicing – and incremental change over time being what it is, this experience this morning is less intense, less disruptive, less agonizing than other such experiences have been – hell, I slept. I even slept fairly restfully, although my mind was very busy, and my dreams were colorful and surreal, filled with detritus left over from the work day, in the form of strange object placement or events (seriously – a ‘portable thermostat’ one might stick on a backpack for ‘go anywhere’ climate control?? Yeah. Our office is seriously cold all the time.)

Breathe. Begin again.

Breathe. Begin again.

Well. Here I am. Still at it. Still practicing. Still taking care of me. Still beginning again and using verbs. Sure – yes, and of course – this is a very human experience, and I sometimes work very hard to endure the most uncomfortable challenges and find my own way. I’ve got a lot to learn on this journey… On the other hand, I am my own cartographer. I have choices – so many choices – and while choosing to calm myself, to take care of myself, to enjoy my time and be engaged and present in this moment isn’t always the easiest of choices (how much easier would it have been to rush to the office without pausing for coffee?!), the value in slowing down and taking care of my own needsĀ is very real.

I think for a moment of my friends – some grinding away years of their lives on shit jobs they don’t care for, others involved in endeavors that feed their passion professionally, all of us exchanging some measure of time for currency we can use to fund the lives that matter to us most. I find myself hoping that they know how important they are to themselves, and that it is their life that has the value, not their employment, and that they find time to really live, to really love, to enjoy each precious moment. Impermanence is a thing too, and we are mortal creatures; there is no time to waste. I use my sympathy and compassion for my friends’ experiences to ease my resentment in this moment; I would so much rather sleep in, then spend the day painting, writing, tending my garden… you know, living my life, and there’s time for that, but before I do, I’ll just need to go over there and exchange a portion of my life force for some pieces of paper, and a balance in a bank account…