1. Unpacking a Lifetime of Overload
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Unpacking a Lifetime of Overload

I've always felt "behind in my life,"
Like there just isn't enough of me
To handle a life.
Meeting all those obligations
Was too much to do.
I'd have to steal time for myself.
Essentialism seemed
Like a liberating approach.
But somehow I couldn't quite get it.
I saw a picture
Of a truck so over-full
That stuff was falling out
As it made its way up a hill.
"That's ME!" I said.
Always struggling to
Deliver some particular thing
Promised to myself or someone else
Finally someone taught me
What I call,
Learn, learn learn.
Shift focus
From the grinding work
Of delivering the promised thing
To learn, learn, learn.
Learn more about
That promised thing --
What to deliver
And how it's made.
Because a setback
Can inspire improvement
Instead of judging one's self
As having failed.
Learn more about
How to deliver it
And alternate approaches.
Because an unexpected turn
Can be a shortcut,
Or a richer path,
And is not automatically
A waste of time
Or a blind alley.
Learn more about
The promised thing
In broader contexts.
Not every promise
It truly worth keeping.
This learning
About what, how and where,
Grants the power to
Deliver better than promised,
Or to shed without shame.
One would expect
That allowing these side trips
To learn, learn, learn
Would be more work than
"Just get it done."
I have found it to be
Just the opposite.
Looking back,
"Just get it done,"
Looks more like obsession.
I thought
Opportunities to learn
What how and where
Were diversions, wastes, interruptions --
Enemies I fought every day
But never vanquished.
I took a little leap of faith,
Putting time and energy
Into learning.
Maybe the what,
The how,
The promise itself
Would evolve
Usefully for me.
I found myself freed from
Having to fight all the time
With the naysaers,
The uncooperative,
The surprises and setbacks.
I was freed from my own fear
Of failing to deliver
Or needing to negotiate.
And then I saw it
The Backlog.
Projects and plans
For posessions and subscriptions.
Stuff that might be
Nice to have,
Nice to know,
Nice to do
But never finished,
Rarely even started.
Baggage carried for years
Out of fear that I might lose
Something valuable
If ever I let it go.
I began to unpack.
Learn, learn, learn.
What? How? Where?
Finally I found myself able
To trust
Answers about what I could use
Instead of what I might lose.
And so I found time and energy
Not fighting
Not carrying
But finishing or divesting.
The constant overload
Feeling behind in my life
Became first minutes then hours then days
Feeling different.
Like Groundhog Day Phil Connors,
I felt that unburdening:
"Anything different, is good."
I'm still unpacking.
It's different.
It's good.
The load keeps getting lighter.
No longer feeling behind,
I'm catching up on life!

28 May 2021

by Bill Cattey