On the restlessness

You know the restlessness I mean.

The one that shows up at inappropriate times, times that you’d been looking forward to, like vacation or other brief eras of freedom in the midst of our pressured lives.

It’s a sudden and unwelcome thing, the byproduct, perhaps, of a sudden sense of possibility and too many ways to take it.

I myself have done a surprisingly good job staving off that restlessness after my decision to devote the fall (at least) to not teaching.  I have a bunch of other projects and a much larger pile of hopes and desires, and now, two days after submitting summer grades, they all seem elusive.

I’m back to unpleasant chore lists (call and haggle with the health insurance company!  Clean the basement!) interrupted by occasional fits of checking out (complete with Netflix and chocolate cake).  This is not what I had imagined.

The amusing part is that it IS, in fact, exactly what I had foreseen, and I’m only really surprised that it took me this long to fall in the hole.  I am a structure person, you see, and I seem to do best when I have clear windows of time and neatly delineated tasks.  Getting comfortable with freedom, in fact, is my greatest struggle.  And it’s one I’m diving into today.

How’s that going?  you might ask.  Well, there’s tea and chocolate; there’s a measure of compassion; there’s a great deal of planning.  There’s even quite a bit of productivity.  But I have this illusion that the in-between times are also somehow supposed to be Perfectly Satisfying, that we move fluidly from Great Achievements to Profound Relaxation.  And back again, of course.  And that’s a bit tricky.  So overall, I’m trying to be happy with the long to-do lists that aren’t getting done (let’s be real: they are less lists and more repositories of all the many things in life and work that need to be done, unsorted by priority or purpose).  Indeed, I’m rather proud of myself for Doing Things and then, if they weren’t on the list already, putting them down so I can cross them off.

But I’d like for the FEEL of these days to shift.  Perhaps I’ll try a project-based approach, where there’s a little task-time but most of it is devoted to a particular project.  Or maybe I’ll get into Pomodoro, or some other time-management strategy.  It’s delightful that I have the freedom to try it a couple of days a week.  Now the hard work is quieting the guilt and managing the expectations.  But we’ll be fine.  Right?