For over 40 years that was what I did, hurry from one activity to another. Get A, B, and C done so I could then continue with D, E, and F. Do it quickly so I could get to the next thing on the list. Oh, yes, lists. Lots of lists. Whatever I WAS doing, I was always thinking about the NEXT thing that had to be done. If I had just a bit of downtime between events, then I was thinking about how badly I handled the previous event. What could I do better the next time. For you see, nothing was EVER good enough.
That’s how I lived. That’s how I worked. I planned. I performed. I evaluated. I reconfigured. I planned…it was a vicious cycle but it was what I did all those years, both with my job and my home life. Even in those 20 summers, when school was out, I hardly took any time off because I was busy getting everything done around the house that I had put off all year and then I was planning the next school year. That is after I went to school and cleaned out the three classrooms I taught in and the office I worked in. After taking over yearbook production in 2001 I actually worked 12 months a year because the yearbook coverage never stopped for holidays and vacations.
Four years ago, when I finally walked out the door of my office for the last time, I was wondering how I would fill my summer. I figured it would be pretty easy since we would be in San Francisco. I did relax, somewhat that summer and the next few months. I was so glad when the new school year started and I didn’t have to be ready.
But now, four years later, I’m still wired for hurry, hurry, rush, rush behavior. I got up early today to be at the downtown farmer’s market because I knew it would get crazy later on since the mayor was giving her big yearly speech in the same neighborhood as the market. Sure enough, many of the parking slots had been closed off to the public. There was also road work going on, but I found a great parking spot with 52 minutes on the meter, plenty of time to quickly get my produce and get back out of downtown before the lunch time mob would ascend on the convention center to hear the mayor. Since the mayor is running for a state spot on November’s ballot, a spot that is all about fiscal responsibility, she is pushing spending cuts in our city’s budget, much to the disapproval of the fire department who picketed her luncheon speech. The mayor says we need more firefighters but she’s not providing more money for them.
I rushed home with my farmer’s market haul, unloaded it, and immediately hit the road again to the Salvation Army Thrift Store where I was going to buy jeans and t-shirts for an organization that feeds, clothes, and houses the homeless in the city. No city funds used, by the way, just so you know that the mayor isn’t ‘wasting’ taxpayer dollars on the vagrants. She has spent city dollars on dismantling their ‘camps’ downtown and pushing them out farther into the suburbs.
With my collection of clothing in the back, I pondered what to do. I felt that old ‘hurry, hurry’ mode kicking in. Then I remembered, I really had no where else to be so I decided to drive back downtown to drop off the pants and shirts. The organization that takes care of the homeless is not near the convention center where the mayor was speaking so I really didn’t have any traffic issues. Nor did I have to worry about parking as the organization has men who greet you when you drive in and take very good care of you. I go down there at Christmas time to deliver items to the women’s shelter which is in the same compound. Again, far from the sight of city hall. The only problem with this trip was all the roadwork I encountered and detours I had to take to get back home, but, again, I had to remember there was no need to rush because I had no other plans for the day. It was work, though, to remember to relax and breath.
Will I ever reach the point where I no longer start to plan lists and group my activities so as to get as much done as possible in the least amount of time?