Late October / Early November, as usual, has been a bear, and I’ve forgotten, as I often do, the one piece of wisdom that I’ve picked up in the past decade — sometimes, when your plate is completely full, the best thing to do is to add something to it.
I’m not talking about any kind of something. I’m not suggesting that you spend more time emailing or on the phone or in meetings; I’m not suggesting that you rake more leaves or spend more time sweeping the pine needles off your driveway. Those are the activities that are grinding your gears in the first place. I’m talking about any of the following.
- Spend a few minutes actively reflecting on your life. That is, write in a journal, write a letter, draw a picture. The act of writing about disparate elements can often help you to make meaning of things, which makes them feel less disparate. Three unconnected things equals three things; three connected things equals one thing.
- Walk, run, or bike . . . flushing the system makes the system work better.
- Attend a performance or sporting event that features a family member or friend. Turn off your phone and leave your calendar behind. Focus on the event and your family members / friend’s role in it. Go for whatever ride — physical, emotional, spiritual — they seem to be going on. When they are breathless, be breathless, etc.
- Help someone else with something. It doesn’t matter if you fully understand the problem — just role up your sleeves and shrink someone else’s burden, get tangled up in their tangle, leave them a notch or two lighter and looser.
I’m not sure why, but these activities feel additive in the purest way possible. Though they take up time, though they stretch your available resources, they ultimately add energy, time, meaning, and life to your days. Expanding the day, they make the day a little bit easier. I’m not sure why, but I just tried a few of them — #1 and # 4 — and they worked.