Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

In the Confusing Midst of It All

I am still grappling with the problem of feeling like I don't get much done.  The way I see it, through this morning's not-so-rose-tinted specs, my weekly done lists seem repetitive, and if not trivial, falling short of what I want to accomplish.  At this point in my journey beyond procrastination, I have entertained a lot of suggestions of how to deal with this concern.  I have incorporated some, and come up with some new approaches of my own.  But I'm still not satisfied that I'm spending my time in the best way.  And anyway, is it such a good idea to be thinking of "spending" or "wasting" time, as if our hours and days were a kind of currency, with which we are making purchases?

From the vantage point of making meaning--of forcing my life to mean, as Van Gogh's Blues' author Eric Maisel puts it--I think I need to do more of the work of determining what I want my life to mean, and then examine my actions and routines in that light.  I began this blog in a state of drift.  Six months ago, I was thrilled to be able to list any sort of task completed.  The more things checked off, the better.  If I didn't know where to start, starting anywhere trumped stalling.  Now, I think I need to get a little pickier.  And a lot more thoughtful.

Of course, another possibility--no, make that a probability, if not a certainty--is that I expect too much of myself, and of life.  This stance guarantees dissatisfaction.  And in concert with that observation are the admonitions from my Buddhist reading and practice to focus more  on being rather than doing.  

If this post sounds a bit confused, it is reflecting where I am.  Partway through the labyrinth of my life, I am unsure which way to turn.  

Which makes me think of a program I heard on NPR's Fresh Air last fall about a program called Puppies Behind Bars.  In this program (which is well worth hearing about), prisoners train puppies to help people who have psychiatric problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder.  An Iraq War vet was credited by the program's founder with having contributed to the program's vocabulary and repertoire in this way:
[I]t was actually Paul who taught us pop-the-corner.  It was in training and you were going into a room I believe, Paul, and Samba went ahead of you and she looked to the left and she looked to your right and you said she just popped a corner.  And we said what in heaven's name is that?  And you said dog looked left, dog looked right. I know it's safe to enter that room.  As a result, a hundred percent of our dogs since Samba are now taught that command. 
I don't think any of my past stressors rise to the level of traumatic stress, nor do I embrace the label of a "psychiatric problem," but I wouldn't mind having the services of a friendly canine to pop some of the corners I find myself facing these days.  Maybe it's something I can learn to do for myself. . . .

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