Sunday, September 6, 2009

Hurry, Impatience and Stress

In contemporary society, our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry and crowds.

--Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, Chapter 2: Meditation, page 15

Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.

--Will Rogers

There is a lot of food for thought in the two quotes above.

Our lives are needlessly stressful with hurry and busy-ness. We fool ourselves or allow ourselves to be fooled into thinking that we "don't have enough time" for many important, soul-satisfying and good things: silence, in-depth Bible study, exercise, meditation, quiet time, a family game night, making something from scratch, reading a good book. Meanwhile, we fill up our time with sitting in traffic, surfing the internet, playing solitaire, checking email once again, texting, or saying yes to another activity.

Time-saving devices engender impatience, increasing the pace of life and making the ordinary old-fashioned ways seem to drag by in the most pokey and frustrating way. We look for shortcuts. We look for instant gratification. We are disconnected from the rhythm of the earth and of Life ... the slow passing of the seasons, the incremental growth of an oak.

I recognize these thoughts contain some truth. But part of me panics at the thought of unplugging, of "missing out" on something. Part of me shrinks from the pain of learning patience. Part of me shrinks from taking the time to do something the old-fashioned way not only because it is hard work, but also because it pits me against a measure of excellence and perfection to which I cannot measure up. My old enemy perfectionism still lingers, whispering encouragements to do nothing, to give a half-hearted effort, to stay too busy with the nonessential, to replace the great with the good and let the unattainable perfect be an excuse to give up before I start.

Perhaps I'm reflecting on this now as I adjust to the reality of working from home. When I imagined how it would be, I imagined all I could accomplish with the extra time I would have. And yet, many days, the extra time seems to slip through my fingers. The house is not particularly neater or more organized. I haven't resumed creative writing.

But am I unnecesarily discounting what I HAVE done these last three weeks?

I've spent much more time with my Pookaloo, who is noticeably happier
I've blogged regularly
I've kept up with the housework for the most part

Yes, I have spent some time watching TV, on facebook and twitter. I've also spent time recording books or researching how to pronounce unfamiliar words.

As I continue to settle into a routine and adjust to this new lifestyle, I need to be careful not to confuse lack of busy-ness with lack of importance, at the same time that I am careful to not let do-nothingism creep in and take me down a path of depression.

Which of these is a more valuable and useful statement:

The good is the enemy of the great

The perfect is the enemy of the good

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