“Never underestimate the impulse to bolt.” Christopher Worley, PhD
One of my strongest desires around leaving my career for this gap year was to stop being so busy. I felt that I had become, as the saying goes, a human doing rather than a human being. I hated being the person, among many, who said “I’m so darn busy” in response to “How are you?” There are lots of reasons why I was busy: I am wired – perhaps habituated is the better word – for productivity, and getting things done is fun and useful; being engaged, deeply and broadly in my work, with my friends and community is a profoundly held value; being busy helped me to feel connected, and yes, fed my need to feel important.
But I also noticed that a lot of the busy was just noise, and old habits. And I found it hard to redirect those habits and myself. I once heard a successful author talk about his need to get out of the house and go the movies at least once a week lest he “fall into work.” It has become all too difficult for many of us to establish and hold our boundaries against doing, against 24-7 work and technology. ‘Who am I if I’m not in motion?’, we might ask ourselves.
All of which is part of why this adventure here in British Columbia seemed just the right thing for me to consider how I really wanted to spend my time, and just the right place for not having any of my old haunts or habits or tendencies for me to “fall into.” I believe that staying busy prevents us from hearing what our inner voice is trying to say, and what needs to come through us – art, projects, connections, vision. I truly wanted to be bored here, so that I could see what might be next, or learn what I was moved to create, and to understand what my restlessness was saying to me.
But here’s the thing, I was bored yesterday. I’m chagrined to say that instead of sitting with it, and seeing what caught my attention or moved me, I found myself recycling the email on my iPhone, hoping to see something new in my inbox, checking my Instagram account for new posts or new likes, and checking the New York Times website again and again. It was an instructive, if disappointing, day.
I told myself that I wanted to draw, and immediately reminded myself that I’m not good at it. I remembered that I wanted to work with colored markers (in lieu of paint) and promptly told myself that I couldn’t color what I couldn’t draw. Then I thought about what I’d like to write for today’s post, and had a brief, bright glimmer that these very moments of frantically trying to escape my boredom, and myself, was what I most needed to write about… tomorrow.
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