1. Truth: I can’t figure out the formula to make it all work. I never manage to accomplish everything I want to, or even need to. If I’m able to get up early, meditate, do my writing practice, walk the dogs, shower, eat breakfast, and get to work at a reasonable time, I probably didn’t floss my teeth and skipped the gym and didn’t make a lunch and arrive at my office to begin a long day of a whole list of other things I won’t get done, to add to the running list that keeps getting longer of all the things I need to do that I just can’t seem to find the energy or time for — make a vet appointment for the dogs, follow up on that question I have about my insurance, mail those books and such that have sat unwrapped in a box on the floor by my desk for months, meet with that person about my 401k, read the book for book club, balance the checkbook, schedule some maintenance on the car, get the snow tires taken off, weed the flower beds, go to a yoga class I’m not teaching, etc. I’ve tried to apply various techniques — spend less time on social media, watch less TV, get up earlier, choose three things to prioritize and make sure those get my attention before anything else — but it never seems to work. There’s still too much that needs done and not enough energy or time.
2. Truth: Instead of feeling like I’ve accomplished anything, I feel like I’m failing. It doesn’t matter what I actually get done, what I really contribute or what value I add, I can’t escape the underlying anxiety that there are other things falling apart while my attention is elsewhere. Sure I was able to keep those four plates spinning, but the other three smashed on the ground in the meantime. And in that moment of stunned awareness, in that pause of grief over my failure to do it all, one of the remaining four plates stopped spinning and crashed to the ground. Maybe I should switch to paper plates?
3. Truth: Deep down, I know that the cake is a lie. “The Cake is a Lie” is a catchphrase popularized by the game Portal, and is often used to convey the message that a promised gift is being used to motivate without any intent of delivering. I know the promise that if you just get organized, just get your shit together, you can have a happy, healthy life in which you are well-fed, rested, satisfied, content, a life in which the laundry is all done (folded and put away), you have time to cook healthy delicious food and make it to the gym and socialize with friends and do all the various maintenance required of your life, blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada — is a lie. We have set the bar way too high — and yet, I keep trying.
One wish: May we, for just one moment, even just one breath, soften, relax, lower the bar, let go, and not feel guilty about it. May we forgive ourselves for not being able to live up to an impossible set of standards. May we find space in our days, rest in our nights.