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.
Jill, so many of your posts resonate with me, but the timing of this one is particularly serendipitous. Thank you for articulating so beautifully a continual struggle of mine (especially lately). It certainly helps me to know that I’m not alone in this (hopefully, it’s helpful for you to hear that as well!).
And AMEN to your One Wish. (and yes, perhaps we should switch to paper plates!) 🙂
Marlo, it is SO helpful, such a comfort to know that it’s not just me, that I’m not alone in this. ❤
Oh sweet, kind, and gentle Jill, you need to take time to do absolutely nothing. You’re brilliant and beautiful and amazing and accomplish more in a day than I can even begin to imagine. But such business can lead to overload and overwhelm. Maybe, just maybe dear friend, you can let go of some of the “shoulds” you place on yourself. You really don’t have to do “everything.” You can simply “be” and that’s more than enough. You shine in this world just by breathing and being present for the rest of us. We don’t ask for more than that. xoxoxo
I love that mug. (Too bad it’s so NSFW in a school.) I love your heart and humanity. I believe it is a lie. There’s no balance. I think the best we can do is get real with ourselves about what we can do. I think perhaps we all need to be come life minimalists–paring down to what’s most essential. Having less, but of higher quality. And sometimes, we just can’t. I have things I can’t let go of–they must get done. Which is why my kids sometimes have McDonald’s for dinner. I’ve learned to be OK with that. Mostly.
Back when I first started overhauling my life, “life rehab” I called it, it was easy once I decided what I wanted, to weed out all the things that didn’t fit, that drained my energy without offering much in return, that were old bad habits and such, but the stage I’ve gotten stuck in is exactly what you are referring to “get real with ourselves about what we can do, paring down to what’s most essential.” I WANT so much, and this makes it hard to let go of some of it. I’ll keep trying though. ❤
Oh, I know. I want so much, too. And then there are the things I don’t want much, but need. (Like, you know, to have my taxes paid.) I know it’s all a process, that process is really all anything is. We will get to a better place, both of us. Because that’s how it is, too. Hope you are having a peaceful weekend.
Oh, you’re for sure not alone in this. I feel this way so often—and this week has nailed me. I’m so glad it’s Friday — I’m always so tired and there’s so much I’m forgetting to do! It never ends!
Thank you for sharing this.
Have a restful weekend, Lucille. ❤