Enjoying the weight of too much

(or: My Attempt to Write a Post Under 1000 words)

I will try to be short because I am short on time. I’m sure you are too.

July 4th "Stream Construction Kit"There have been many jobs in my life where there are not enough minutes in the hours to complete what I need get done but rarely have I felt that when not working for someone else. I find myself now in that blissful state.

Yes, it is frustrating and overwhelming and fatiguing. It is also invigorating, motivating and satisfying.

I have entirely too much to do

How much better than the alternative is that? Instead of sitting around, listless and dull, we can have 20 projects to work passionately on. Ok, doing taxes maybe not so much on the gets-my-fires-stoked scale but they all can’t all be soul a’light experiences.

The project due date, the 46 open browser tabs, the writing deadline, the huddle, stack of books, chat, email, artistic project, self imposed deadline in an hour — make that 54 minutes– all of them vying for attention in the crowded stage of our minds.

The cacophony is grand.

Too many is better than not enough.

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The Horizon

Whilst playing To Do List whack-a-mole over the last two weeks I’ve had rumblings and churnings of posts but nothing that I feel like is complete. This is a common problem I know, as is last minute writing before deadline to get it done.

My issue is neither starting nor finishing right now. My problem is creating the head space to concentrate on anything longer than the next three minutes or think about that which is past today.

I’m onsite in Orlando and part of the squeeze is the work I’m being paid to do is supposed to take priority. I’ve also been distracted by friends, start of the semester concerns and projects with their own imminent or past deadlines… and of course the always shiny internets.

I’ve felt anxious and scattered in waves while trying to concentrate on my project and deal with whatever is most screaming for attention. Not ideal productivity conditions.

Horizon
This morning, after about 4 hours of sleep, bleary eyed and slightly congested I awoke in time for a beautiful sunrise. (my picture doesn’t do it justice)

That image combined with watching some corporate speak powerpoints in 80foot wide aspect, sprinkled with planning and goal posts I’ve been reading during renders (some of which are below) and a caffeine kick, coalesced an idea in my monkey brain. Fair waring: because of the ingredients at play, it might not make a lick of sense.

With the economy and election, protests and priorities for the new year, the idea of a fresh horizon appears to be permeating culture right now.

I’m not a design expert but from the small lines of serif fonts, to election logos, to striking whitespace between blocks, horizontal is making a comeback. It seems we are drawn by the implied space between disparate objects and the promise of something cleaner.

Or maybe that is where I am. Caught in the frenetic of my day-to-day I keep thinking that my pace will be more calm in a few hours/days/weeks and then I can plan/write/meditate/work on that one thing. Then reality strikes again and methinks mahaps the beautiful distant future will always be just that.

Yet the horizon can always be an idea or ideal to be working towards.

Jeff Goins has some interesting thoughts about not making plans though still starting step by step to accomplish towards your goals. Certainly the blunt “I have no idea what I’m doing” finds resonance here as does his advice on plans (which echoes in other verbiage my musings on schedule). Mostly, I like the idea of doing to become habit to become process to become achievement.

I have yet to define my plans for this year. I have some goals and objectives but a defined work-set is one of many items hanging on my honey-do list. I know when I get back to Athens things will naturally take more shape and, with intention, I’ll find a positive routine. That, however, is all tomorrow-thinking and really I just have the attention and mental capacity right now for today.

My positive-step habit for this morning was: stop and appreciate the sunrise.

I tried to quiet all of the other soundlings of my mind and Be IN. Mischief managed.

Yes, the calm lasted all of 30 seconds before my alarm reminded me I was needed in the shower but it was a good reprieve while it lasted. It allowed me the space to ramp back up with a little more spring.

Like looking into the distance when feeling seasick, a few moments contemplating the horizon can ease a little of the tension and pressure of immediate and focus on the positive and possible.

A calming and helpful thought as I settle in to bop more off my list.

Sunset

If you’d like some interesting reading that has found purchase in my brain this week here is some linkage:

PS: Software salespeople seem happier than accountants. Make of that what you will.

Anyone else giving up on plans and instead focusing on the horizon?

Sad Audit

Math

“It really shouldn’t be this hard to find smiling faces.”

I worked a freelance corporate project a few weeks ago, using some of my “old” skills as a TV editor. I loved the travel and it was a rather lucrative gig for me. 

The client has apparently enjoyed similarly lucrative work recently. The event was in an absolutely gorgeous location, super swank, and was all-expense paid for attendees (the employee and their partner). Idyllic really.

 Editor's View

Except for one thing. I had trouble finding happy faces for a happy-face wrap-up video. 

This is why I both love and hate my job as an editor.

Love: Seeing, as a fly on the wall, how other people live and operate— when they know they are being observed and when they don’t. I’ve learned a a great deal from the comfort of my edit chair about human interaction, what others are working on, learning, doing and about life in general. Not groundbreaking that this is how TV works but in production you get to see it all. 

Hate: When I watch something so profoundly frustrating… and then have to work with that material for hours on end.

This by no means was as emotionally hard as working on a doc-reality show about young adult addiction. Nor, for different reasons, as bad as slaving on something so utterly not my style that I wanted to quit about once a minute, every day (like the time I spent 3 weeks and 20 distinct versions on a Justin Beiber pilotish test tape).

This project was difficult because it was crystalizingly, almost beautifully, sad.

Here were these people at the height of their careers, at the top of the top of a multinational corporation, all on an amazing vacation (with a few meetings between golf) and 90% were quite obviously unhappy.

IMG_5947

Perhaps I am more attune to this particular phenomena because of my personal history with this field but I was not the only member of the crew to notice. The quotation above is direct from the cameraman’s mouth.

The first day I sifted through registration footage where the attendees and their partners cued up and ignored each other, and staff beamed at non-reciprocating faces. I felt compelled to text my Ex. This is THE X. Of life-status-change import but also my X who went through college and Grad school to join this profession. 

The X who hated just about every minute grinding through 5 years of school to study this profession. He was on the path, you see,  following the “sure thing.” He thought that somehow it would be different in practice.

It wasn’t. 

He was miserable and we were miserable together. He actually made me promise him that if he was still in that line of work, “on the track” still in 10 years, I would leave him. Um, hi, if you are looking for a sign that you are unhappy maybe that is a good one.

After 9 long, difficult months, and with a great deal of pushing by Gutsy-Emotional-Me, Thinking-He took a chance and switched careers. 

We stuck through for quite a bit longer before finally deciding to separate but that is another story for another day. The upshot is that we are still in touch (thank you counseling and determination) so I sent him a many-years-later kudos for getting out of something that was quietly but concretely bleeding his soul.

Seeing the effects of that road-so-much-more-traveled writ large on every face, made me appreciate anew what a difference that decision made for him. Granted, he is now in computers and certainly has his days of server crashes, personal issues and other untold dramas. But on any given day I know he is happier than he ever was in those months of working and years of study in the wrong field. 

I, or any stranger, can see it on his face. 

I couldn’t say anything to the corporate types on the other side of the fourth wall so I’m saying it here now: 

Life is too blippin short for you to be miserable. And when you are, it shows.

Valuing yourself enough to find your bliss is hard. Figuring out what you want and what will make you happy is hard. Taking leaps, even from the midst of soul-sucking hell, is hard. Keeping your right course in the face of uncertainty and adversity is really hard.

Staying with the safe sure thing might be easier but it will make you hard.

You and I may never meet but don’t wish that for you. 

Do the hard thing before it makes you hard!

I hope that if a camera caught you unawares today, an editor would have no trouble finding smiles that reached your eyes.

happy_fisherman

Photos via Flickr, Creative Commons Licence: Beau Maes (Math), Jack Zalium (IMG_5947), xmatt (Happy Fisherman)

Acceptance

Fortune

I wanted this.

I worked for it.

I achieved it.

Simple right?

Last Friday I was offered an internship as the librarian for my University’s Study Center in Florence. As in Italy.

After quite literally falling on the floor when I got the email I thought about it for oh about 20 seconds… Um they are supporting me living a year in effing Tuscany? Not only a “hell yeah” I think this qualifies as a hell-damn-your-sweet-skippy-arse YES!

I penned my (more eloquent) “yes” with great, wild, crazy, joy and trembling hands… before they could change their minds. Then I was literally running around chasing my niece and smiling like an idiot in laughing, gleeful, abandon.

Relief. Release. Disbelief.   

I don’t know how many times I can express pure dumbfoundedness at where my life is and where it is going without sounding completely rudderless. I promise I’m in control. I might not plan things through A-B-C but I worked for this with intention and purpose.

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