I’ve been reading a range of books on how to live better, manage tasks better, be kinder, explore more — you know, LIVE. I’m always fascinated by how many of them articulate the same kinds of common sense we’ve been hearing for years, yet make it sound fresh and important and attractive. Which is vital if you’re someone like me, who has a great deal of common sense and yet a whole host of excuses for being stuck in a rut. It’s MY rut. It’s not uncomfortable. I’ve made it sort of homey, papered it with possibilities and laid out a few nice cushions on the floor. And I spend a lot of time there.
But these writers say we should explore! We should take risks! And be uncomfortable! And the bummer is, they’re right. Sometimes the discomfort is as small as giving up the precious quiet cup-of-coffee minutes of a baby’s nap to write a blog post; sometimes it’s as huge as cold-calling for consulting gigs. Sometimes it’s in between, like meeting the new neighbors and trying to decide what if anything to make them for a welcome dinner. I guess I’m more of an introvert than I thought.
The most important tool, I find, for staying stuck in my rut is the excuse. I rarely even have to offer them to others — I use them on myself. I’m truly gifted at rationalization. But there’s a point when our knowledge of ourselves makes even the best excuses evident: when we wake up in the morning with back pain because we keep skipping our exercises, well, then, there’s really no excuse for skipping the exercises. No matter what I tell me. If we want a particular kind of job, then all our brilliant excuses for postponing the search are going to be, well, stupid and self-defeating. And I don’t know about you, but I dislike feeling stupid and defeating myself (though again, I am excellent at both: this is one area where you really don’t want to run with your strengths).
How, then, do we get past all this? I’m on the fence about that. Surprise. I am really liking Scott Belsky’s “Making Ideas Happen” and its Action Method; I also really like the gentler, more spiritual approaches of Patti Digh. I am drawn to the clarity and categorization of Strengthsfinder, but I believe in the broader, more mindful approach of, say, Parker Palmer. As much as I appreciate what she’s doing, Gretchen Rubin’s “Happiness Project” makes me a little itchy — perhaps I am just allergic to the tone of direct achievement and 20/20 hindsight when I feel myself groping around in the dark. And Seth Godin is always appealing, but usually more as a shot in the arm, maybe-I’ll-take-up-mountain-biking-while-I’m-churning-out-utterly-brilliant-novels kind of way. Mostly, I think, what I need is a Natalie Goldberg-esque kind of practice, a daily writing-cum-meditation that helps me see what’s in play and sit quietly in its presence.
What I DON’T need is a computer that has stopped connecting to the internet anyway anyhow…but that’s what I have. Now I have to see if I can fix it, or see if I can find someone who can, for cheap, or buy a new one. All advice welcome. (And yes, that’s my excuse for late posting. I’ll get back to it, I promise.)