Walking. With Billy Summers.

67° F. Cove Island Park.  Morning walk. 459 consecutive days. Like in a row.

Sun, all on its own, decides there’s no damn point getting up this early, is rising later, 5:55 a.m. per Dark Sky app.  And yet I’m struggling to make adjustments. So here we are. 3:38 a.m. Sciatica screaming the moment I stir with Jung’s fear of the journey to Hades having arrived. What if this Sciatica thing is with me the rest of the go? 

I ease out bed, try to shake that ugly thought from my head, and head for the scale.

Disgusting result.

Admit it, you’re looking for a full status report on the Refined Sugar Elimination Project. Not goin’ to get it. Nope.

I turn to the morning papers. Headline catches my attention. “Escaping the Efficiency Trap—and Finding Some Peace of MindThe more productive we are, the more pressure we feel. It’s time to break the busyness cycle.” “...the problem with trying to make time for everything that feels important is that you definitely never will. The reason isn’t that you haven’t yet discovered the right time management tricks or applied sufficient effort, or that you need to start getting up earlier, or that you’re generally useless. It’s that the underlying assumption is unwarranted: There’s no reason to believe you’ll ever feel “on top of things,” or make time for everything that matters, simply by getting more done. That’s because if you succeed in fitting more in, you’ll find the goal posts start to shift: More things will begin to seem important, meaningful or obligatory. Acquire a reputation for doing your work at amazing speed, and you’ll be given more of it. … The general principle in operation here is what we might call the “efficiency trap.” Rendering yourself more efficient—either by implementing various productivity techniques or by driving yourself harder—won’t generally result in the feeling of having “enough time,” because, all else being equal, the demands will increase to offset any benefits. Far from getting things done, you’ll be creating new things to do. For most of us, most of the time, it isn’t feasible to avoid the efficiency trap altogether. But the choice you can make is to stop believing you’ll ever solve the challenge of busyness by cramming more in, because that just makes matters worse. And once you stop investing in the idea that you might one day achieve peace of mind that way, it becomes easier to find peace of mind in the present, in the midst of overwhelming demands, because you’re no longer making your peace of mind dependent on dealing with all the demands. Once you stop believing that it might somehow be possible to avoid hard choices about time, it gets easier to make better ones….And so, like the dutiful and efficient worker I was, I’d put my energy into clearing the decks, cranking through the smaller stuff to get it out of the way—only to discover that doing so took the whole day, that the decks filled up again overnight anyway and that the moment for responding to the New Delhi email never arrived. One can waste years this way, systematically postponing precisely the things one cares about the most. What’s needed instead in such situations, I gradually came to understand, is a kind of anti-skill: not the counterproductive strategy of trying to make yourself more efficient but rather a willingness to resist such urges—to learn to stay with the anxiety of feeling overwhelmed, of not being on top of everything, without automatically responding by trying to fit more in..”

Burkeman goes on, and on. My eyes scan the words, one line, the next and the next. Heaviness sets in… a sinkin’ feeling. He’s in my head. You DK. This is You.

He closes his essay with: “I don’t think the feeling of anxiety ever completely goes away; we’re even limited, apparently, in our capacity to embrace our limitations. But I’m aware of no other time management technique that’s half as effective as just facing the way things truly are.

‘resist the urges…’

‘learn to stay with the anxiety of feeling overwhelmed, of not being on top of everything.

I glance at the clock. 4:55 a.m. Wow, where did the time go? I’m going to be late.

I download Stephen King’s new book: Billy Summers. Plug in my ear buds.

Because you can walk, take photographs, plow through a book, stand gawking at the sunrise, say hi to the birds —  and then race home to get after the urges, the weekend projects, the unread papers, the blog post, the exercise you missed during the week, and… Sisyphus, brace yourself, here comes the Rock.

“..face the way things are…”

Billy Summers reminisces: “About the comfort of haircuts and attitudes that don’t change.”

That’s right Billy.  I ain’t going to change.

This is your plumbing DK.

Peace be with you. And Billy.


DK @ Daybreak this morning. 6:01 am. 67° F. Cove Island Park. Stamford, CT.

Comments

  1. Yessssss….. that’s how it is. Yesterday night I made a pile on our dining table, a HIGH pile of important newspaper articles to read. Magazines I really want to read from end to end. In the night 🌙 I was wide awake and counting the clock tower ringing 4am, 5, 6. 7, but I’m too bl…y tired to do anything. Take my huge and far too heavy hardback and read 📚, book 📖 falls on my face and nearly takes my nose off. Think Alright. 😴 Sleeping Time….. naaah, just aching nose as well as aching everything. HOW was I able to work full time AND have a life?
    I so wish for you to break that infernal hamster wheel cycle and slow 🐌 down a tad or three…. but I never learned how to either. And the price is so very high! And nobody will thank you for having ruined your life for any employer.
    Take Billy’s advice. Please!!! 😇

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Well, I’ve read through this a couple times, DK, to see if you missed any possible area of shoulding all over yourself. Nope! Why in God’s name are we so HARD on ourselves? I don’t think over-achieverism is just an American thing, but we do seem to take it to another level!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Love the post, David. You are really hard on yourself, me thinks. Maybe you’re okay as is, apart from the sciatica, of course. And I only say that because you are suffering and that’s not okay. By the way, I finally found an approach that resolved my persistent hip and back pain after 7 long months of hobbling around. It is a technique that is not recognized by insurance companies here in Quebec but is widely available in your country: Muscle Activation Technique. The therapist I went to was trained in the US. I resolved to try everything before resigning myself to this pain. Was about to give up when it started improving. When you have pain with every step, you certainly notice the times when it’s not there. Physio is great but it’s limited. I am the first one to acknowledge that. No solicited advice from me but I do encourage you to go where the light is, where the pain is less. And keep on moving. Thanks for making our day a little brighter with each blog post. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Breathe in and out deeply, until sweet air extinguishes the burn of fear in your lungs and every breath is a beautiful refusal to become anything less than infinite. – D. Antoinette Foy

    Liked by 3 people

  5. It’s that the underlying assumption is unwarranted – full stop. peace be with you and your plumbing, dk.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Three things my mom used to say:

    Do a little bit of everything every day.
    Just get started.
    Learn to say no.

    My father? He made chocolate shakes just before bedtime almost every night of my childhood.

    Peace be with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Inner struggle often reflects external conflict. Perhaps this is time to reassess what’s most important. Time to shed something? 💛🙏💛

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I read that same story in the paper, and had the same feeling. All of this push to become more productive and efficient is a never ending battle. Maybe that’s the point of retirement…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. If nothing else, you have found moments that are perfect when viewed through your camera lens, when your stillness and calm was required and suspension of any deprecating thoughts impossible to hold onto. As for the rest – I have yet to find anyone who isn’t a work in progress – and you’re progressing, pal…😉

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I think Mimi is right, pal. Those morning walks, the self-imposed stillness necessary to get *that shot* is, I believe, its own form of meditation and release.

    Much to my surprise, I have found this release on the back of a horse. Riding lessons once a week coupled with neighborhood trail rides has turned out to be my escape. I went for a 2-hour trail ride this morning with a few of my neighbors and my goodness, what a happy, easy time! Riding along, surveying the landscape, listening to the birdsong,sharing random observations, and maintaining a certain degree of vigilance lest a deer or wild pig come scrambling out of the woods unexpectedly. It is a strange and lovely blend of awareness and relaxation, and it offers me a release from the internal, infernal incessant push to ‘do and be more’ that seems to ride shotgun 24/7/365. May you find your own acceptance and ‘way off the wheel.’ 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sciatica is a nuisance! I’m finding every ailment I’ve ever had just “pop up” again gets intensified by my anxiety over when it’s gonna pop up again. Vertigo, I’m convinced is exacerbated by stress, a slight cough gets more chronic due to fear. So, I light a candle, use the neck massager and have the kombucha that’s the color of Merlot in a pretty glass. Then I set my alarm for a grandma day, put my phone down and read an actual book instead. Thanks for the space to tell someone about my Sunday night self-care. (Yoga ball stretching is great for sciatica.) Be well!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I somehow always managed to become the “go-to” person no matter where I work. It’s in my nature to go get what I need and git ‘er done. Funny thing is, as time goes on, I feel less inclined to be that person anymore. I will never be successful or move close to the top of the company chain because I am zero interested in work becoming my life. I work to live; not live to work. I suppose of I was passionate about what I did it would be another story – something I have never had, to be honest.

    The walks you take, the photography, they force you to slow down and be in the moment; a sort of meditation…I’m curious because your personality is the type that you have now challenged yourself to do it. Do you enjoy it? Does it bring you some measure of peace in your hectic day? Honest question and definitely not meant to be a sh*t disturber. Has it become something more you MUST do for whatever reason? Is this one more thing you’ve added it to your load? I like to think it is a slow-down and re-centering or refocusing on what you want your life to look like.

    I am so sorry you are suffering so much with this sciatica. Mine is just nagging me but once I start walk/running and it warms up, feels better. Long slow stretches after help. I’m hoping it resolves itself this way!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Dale. “I somehow always managed to become the “go-to” person no matter where I work. It’s in my nature to go get what I need and git ‘er done. Funny thing is, as time goes on, I feel less inclined to be that person anymore. “ This is so me too. As to whether I enjoy the walks, I had to stop and think about this for a long while. Not sure I would call it enjoy. I think I would describe it as mandatory for my mental health. Your insight made me stop and wonder. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

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