Oh, the trap of productivity. I fall into this hole over and over again. Ask me how my my first week of self-employment was, and I’m inclined to tell you about all I accomplished - from learning more than I ever wanted to know about web platforms like Squarespace and MailChimp and Eventbrite; to setting up a business account and securing things with acronyms - an EIN and LLC; to engaging deeply in interesting coaching, strategic planning, and editorial work with clients.
But all these details about *what* I’m doing don’t help me unless I track back to the *why* - the thread that holds all of this activity together. Particularly at this time of start-up, when I have to acknowledge and then let go of the fear of giving up my salaried job every day, I must return to the questions: Am I fostering positive change in the world? Is there an element of contribution that’s not just about me, but we? I have to stay grounded in the belief that clarity of purpose + discipline + a service orientation will help open the way. As a friend would say, it’s playing the believing game rather than the doubting game. In my mind, focusing on why over what is an essential component of believing.
So, life can’t just be about plans and accomplishment, but the alignment of actions to something deeper. One of the things I experienced this week is that staying true to the “I” portion of the equation is more difficult than I thought it would be. One of the aspects of my self-employed life I have been most excited about is controlling my own calendar - putting in the “big rocks” of self-care first and then adding in tasks and work that are more “we” oriented around that center - because I’m clear that I’m only able to truly serve if I’m coming from a grounded, healthy space. At its essence, this is the heart of my business - to help myself and others who are “we” oriented remember how central the discipline of self-care is in our ability to serve the greater good.
I need meditation, yoga, time outdoors, and quiet reflection - each day - to ‘remember the other world’ and bring forth what could so easily be hidden by a mountain of tasks. I wouldn’t have guessed that the discipline of giving myself this time, before making plans for the day, would be one of the first challenges I’d face. I did start each day this week with self-care, but it was difficult and I struggled. I realized I’m out of practice.
If you face a similar challenge, I invite you to recommit along with me to morning practice - to whatever it is that grounds you and allows you a slower transition from the world of possibility into the world of plans and allows you to swim in the questions:
Maria Popova of Brain Pickings is one of my mentors and heroes. However, the number of links to deeper learning is each of her rich posts is overwhelming to me. So, I'm going with the belief that less is more in this era of stimulation overload. On the theme of discipline and practice, this week's resource is an eloquent, short description of the what and why of meditation. Whether you are a newbie or an old hand, I find this to be a helpful little gem.
And, the poem referenced above, in its beautiful entirety:
What to Remember When Waking
In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake,
coming back to this life from the other
more secret, moveable and frighteningly honest world
where everything began,
there is a small opening into the new day
which closes the moment you begin your plans.
What you can plan is too small for you to live.
What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough
for the vitality hidden in your sleep.
To be human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world
is to live in your true inheritance.
You are not a troubled guest on this earth,
you are not an accident amidst other accidents
you were invited from another and greater night
than the one from which you have just emerged.
Now, looking through the slanting light of the morning window
toward the mountain presence of everything that can be
what urgency calls you to your one love?
What shape waits in the seed of you
to grow and spread its branches
against a future sky?
Is it waiting in the fertile sea?
In the trees beyond the house?
In the life you can imagine for yourself?
In the open and lovely white page on the writing desk?
David Whyte, from The House of Belonging