Hurry Up and Slow Down
So I’m back, after an unintentional hiatus. This was, of course, a no-no in Blog Land. What can I say? There are a whole slew of reasons I could compile for you here in a nice little list, but I don’t like making excuses. I should have posted. I didn’t. My fault.
It would be nice to think that why I didn’t doesn’t really matter, that I’m back now, and that’s what counts. But actually, it does matter. Underestimating the time it takes to get things done, regardless of what they are, and overestimating my ability to handle everything before running out of steam are tendencies that have left me in this awkward position for years and frankly, it gets embarrassing. I used to rattle off the excuses every time (but now I’ve cut way back) and legitimate though they may have been, the fact remains that there is a lesson that I continue to learn, over and over, about trying too hard to do too much in too little time while putting myself under too much pressure until everything becomes too intense. A lesson about saying “Sure! I can do that!” and “Yes, I can be there in twenty,” knowing all along that twenty is only possible with at least ten over the speed limit, and that somewhere between thirty-five and fifty minutes I’ll be avoiding eye contact while explaining what kept me from being on time.
I’m not alone here.
Carl Honoré writes about our hurried lives, our culture of speed, and how we are driving ourselves to exhaustion as a result of this in his book In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed. Generally speaking, taking on more obligations, filling every spare minute and being available around the clock have become part of what we expect from others and from ourselves, largely since the internet came along and took away our ability to hide. Turning off the phone or not answering emails after working hours is unheard of nowadays, and with phones that make it possible to work around the clock, to email, post, tweet, check your facebook, and so on, we are expected to do so. If you can’t keep up, you’re out of the game.
Allowing myself to fall prey to this line of thinking never ends well for me. Filled with ideas and intentions and a million goals I want to accomplish I start out full speed ahead, but it doesn’t take long at all until the energy is all used up, I’m exhausted, and projects remain in a state somewhere between started with enthusiasm and finally finished. (I should probably hurry up and finish Honoré’s book…or maybe it’d be better to slow down and take time with it.) There are two options from this point: 1) Press onward, soldier, and do whatever it takes to accomplish the goal. This usually involves adding overwhelming amounts of caffeine and sugar and subtracting any consideration for my health; given the general state of my health, this is absolutely not a good idea; and 2) Succumb to the dictates of my fatigued body, listen to it when it tells me to slow down, take a breather, this is too much…and fall behind in or completely out of the rat race. While this is clearly the better option for the long-term, it is also the one I refuse the most often, the one I loathe, the one that worries me incessantly. It is also the one I deny. No, I don’t need to rest, I need to get this done. Rest can wait. All these things are more important.
“For fast-acting relief from stress, try slowing down.”
My original thought was to wait a little longer to start this blog, just long enough to take care of anything that might be so time-consuming as to become an interference. But I didn’t want to wait. (It’s fair to say that patience isn’t always one of my strengths.) So much precious time is wasted waiting for the right time to start this, to end that, to really make an effort to get to know somebody, to say “I’m sorry,” to try something new.
So Isolated Thunder was born, in the midst of a storm. (Pun clearly intended. Yes, it’s cheesy; no, I don’t care.) After very briefly considering those two options, I went with my usual first choice, to press on, and have been drifting back and forth between the two since. Posting wasn’t put on hold for lack of motivation; in fact I’ve jotted notes for a whole slew of posts since my last one. It’s just been about juggling a few things, all high on the importance scale, and trying to choose the more sensible option more often. This means it will take me longer to accomplish things than it used to, and I hate that. I really hate that. So maybe I am learning, making progress.
Or maybe I’m just tired.
There will be a new post weekly. Now I’ve said it, it’s out there, and I’m accountable. And in case I get too busy or tired, Mojo wants his voice to be heard too, so maybe he can help as an occasional guest blogger for me. A dog is also a woman’s best friend.