Quietly storming out is so a strategy
I returned from a two-week vacation in the north of Ontario feeling tired but focused and triumphant. As the driver for this 18+ hour trip (each way) I had a clear purpose: keep the car moving. We had direction, we had a destination, we had a well-defined goal. And we reached our family goal, with almost no terror (a slight gas panic the only exception) and in remarkably good spirits. I felt pretty good.
And then I checked my email.
Suddenly, the long list of obligations and irritations came rushing at me, eroding away my peace of mind. Complaints and problems from some of the condo owners (I sit on the condo board). A variety of complications and issues with setting up the campaign office and team for this fall’s Federal election (I’m the association president). A profound lack of book sales during my absence (not surprising, given the nonexistent promotion I did for the book during that time). Negative online comments for a freelance article I did during vacation.I wasn’t writing anything. And on, and on. It felt like every area of my life that I devoted time to was producing nothing but problems. I was failing at a whole variety of tasks and duties.
I lost most of Sunday to this overwhelming feeling of failure. I couldn’t even pick out one part to fix, since working on one would mean ignoring all the others. I desperately wanted to get lost in a new video game, dive in and get immersed in an electronic world where I knew what to do and how to do it. Mental gridlock. Not a fun day.
Monday morning, I decided to do a little bit of quitting. And by that I mean, I quit everything frustrating for one day. Once the boy was off to summer day camp, and the dear wife was off to work, I tuned everything out and wrote. The dishes? Still dirty. The rogue neighbourhood cat? Still menacing gardens and befouling patios. The mysterious water leak that probably comes from our shower? Still unsolved. What I do have is progress on two separate story ideas, and a renewed sense of priorities. I can’t control all of the irritants and complications in life. It is unfair to judge myself by my success (or lack thereof) in resolving those complications.
I’m one guy, and I can only do so much. If I’m overwhelmed, it’s because I’m trying to fix everything at once. The lesson I’m learning today is:Put the to-do list to the side, take a deep breath, and give your passion top spot in your brain.