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

Monday, December 6, 2010

Done for the Week: These Little Lights of Mine

Did I mention that there are only 15 days, 13 hours, and some amount of minutes and seconds (depending on how long it takes me to complete this post and get it up) until the Winter Solstice--that nadir of light toward which we are inexorably headed, and which I am looking forward to being on the other side of?  [Note to spouse, who will be reading this from halfway around the world:  We will be attending a Solstice Service the night you return.  So rest up!]

I have been working on befriending the darkness, and my partnerless state this past week.  Of course, the downside is that I expose myself to the possibility of missing these two formerly dreaded conditions once they are gone.  I am reminded of the first two of Buddha's Four Noble Truths.  1. Life means suffering; and 2. The origin of suffering is attachment.  So I guess I'm right on track, complicating things by trying to escape suffering.

While I've been engaged in this particular "stupid human trick," I got an astonishingly (to me) long list of admittedly not world-changing things done.

Done for the Week:  Nov. 29-Dec. 5
  1. Continued off-season race training; ran once, biked 4 times 
  2. Succeeded in getting one son to gym with me once
  3. Finished A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future: Twists and Turns and Lessons Learned, by Michael J. Fox 
  4. Continued reading The Zen Path Through Depression, by Philip Martin, and Undoing Perpetual Stress: The Missing Connection Between Depression, Anxiety, and 21st Century Illness, by Richard O'Connor; Baking Cakes in Kigali, by Gaile Parkin.  Discontinued reading Barbara Kingsolver's The Lacuna
  5. Continued support of transitioning not-for-profit organization--continuing to taper off
  6. Worked my two part-time jobs
  7. Published 5 blog posts
  8. Meditated 5 times
  9. Wrote 4 Gratitude Journal entries
  10. Wrote 3 Morning Pages
  11. Spent 3-1/2 hours working on my novel
  12. Attended church
  13. Participated in more frustrating transcontinental skype calls with absent spouse; one less frustrating one after his hosts fixed their internet connection
  14. Attended 2 yoga classes
  15. Took my sons out for (nonalcoholic) Happy Hour
  16. Babysat my grandson one evening
  17. Watched our two favorite basketball teams play 4 games, with son 
  18. Purchased new outdoor lights, which my aesthetically astute son put up
  19. Found working wall clock at Goodwill, to replace broken one in family room
  20. Purchased replacement headlamp for my car, which my mechanically-inclined son installed
  21. Ordered and received new "touchless" kitchen trash can--which my dog can't outfox-- to replace old no-longer-working one
  22. Spent hours almost mastering new (to me) web design feature
  23. Worked on straightening sun/dining room
  24. Survived second week with absent spouse
  25. Saw my therapist
  26. Cleaned bathroom sink
  27. Straightened living room
  28. Did laundry
  29. Coordinated dinner preparation by sons (yay!)
  30. Played my wounded piano several hours, over the course of the week
  31. Purchased nosebleed seats for my son and me to see H.M.S. Pinafore
  32. Purchased and sent senior-friendly cell phone as birthday and Christmas gift for my mom
  33. Accomplished significant progress as employment counselor/placement specialist for two unemployed sons
This past week saw the return of my attempt to focus my efforts.  Highlighted in green above is evidence of my need to do so.  I had intended to meditate daily, but managed only five sessions on the cushion.  The hitch seems to be scheduling.  I found myself, on several days, running out of day before I ran out of planned tasks, including meditation.  On some of these days, I forced myself to sit just before going to bed.  Late night basketball games that needed to be watched meant that bedtime on these occasions was already too late to get adequate sleep before early morning commitments.  Less than ideal circumstances for keeping my attention on my breath.  Similarly, I struggled to get to the gym by the end of the day, squeezing this important anti-stress measure into my last hours of consciousness and working it around other commitments, mealtimes, gym closing times, etc.

I think I am experiencing a variant of my old procrastination habits, where I build suspense, or juice, or something, by putting off important things to the point that their achievement is in jeopardy.  This week, my focus goal will be to put first things, if not first, at least earlier in the day.  Oh, and to figure out what those first things might be, on any given day. 

With all of the items crammed onto the list this week, it may strike the reader as strange that I identify item #18, "Purchased new outdoor lights, which my aesthetically astute son put up," as my most important accomplishment.  Though it may be seen as merely symbolic, it is consonant with my "believing" project.  (See recent posts, Belief Control--My Take, and Believe--The Musical.)  Having the lights up, shining through the dark, glinting off the snow, gives me hope; the kind my minister referred to yesterday as "courageous hope," not to be confused with optimism with its denial of difficulty, but acting in the face of all that is hard.  "Knowing full well. . .," but doing it anyway.  As in a real but metaphorical story she recounted, it is my "cello playing in Sarajevo," though clearly my challenges don't rise to the level of Vedran Smailovic's.

The closing words of yesterday's service, used also to conclude my most recent yoga class, were these:

May the long time Sun shine upon you, 
All love surround you. 
And the pure light within you, 
Guide your way on.

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