Overflowing or Under Control?
This is a guest post from Jacki Dilley of Money. Work. Life.
I have a clear memory of getting off the bus on the last day of first grade. I was struggling down the steps with a huge grocery bag full of stuff that had been in my desk, and also carrying a prize I had won. Just as I got off the bus, I dropped the prize. The bag was ripping, so I couldn’t set it down and pick up my treasure. Even so, I felt I had the situation well under control, and couldn’t understand why my mom came running up to my rescue.
That scene still repeats itself more often than I wish, except that my mom no longer appears. I have so many wonderful things in my life: my loved ones, a vibrant spiritual community, good things to read, people who laugh at my jokes. And just yesterday I realized that once again I was trying to convince myself I had my overflowing shopping bag under control.
Six weeks ago I procured an unpaid writing gig with some potential to market my business. Never having been able to realize my dream of becoming a Girl Scout, I’ve been churning 7 hours a week of intense good-kid effort into this project. In rapid succession yesterday I realized:
- I’m not having fun with this.
- I don’t see how I’m going to catch up with several important neglected tasks at this rate.
- I’m starting to hate writing.
- Other marketing efforts would be more effective at this point.
- Actually, business is going well, and marketing isn’t my top priority right now.
- I’ve given my own blog almost zero attention in the past six weeks.
- Did I mention I’m not having fun with this?
It had happened once again. I had seen bright, shiny objects. I stuffed them into my shopping bag. The bag started to rip, but I didn’t want to let go of a single thing that I’m interested in. And then my peace of mind hit the ground.
Rather than simply cutting back with the new writing gig, I’m tempted to just chuck it. But that would be dumb. Sustainable abundance comes about through mindful decisions, made over time. Trying to simplify life by alternating between over-committing oneself and hacking away at the mess is so last year.
I am reminded of the gray October afternoon during my first semester of college when I was standing in the stacks of the graduate student library, surrounded by 18 trillion or so books. I had spent the last hour reading sections out of volume after volume: The Three Christs of Ypsilanti, Coming of Age in Samoa, you name it. The more I read, the less satiated I felt. Then it hit me: I will never be able to read all the interesting books I want to read. I checked out the books I needed to write my paper and went home. And I felt at peace.