The penchant for expressing our worth by how busy we are has woven itself into the fabric of our culture. Our worth as a human begins by virtue of our breathing. It works outward from there. There are some days when our sense of worth has to be defined as enough just by being alive. Those are tough days. Then – there are the days where we are energized and have a list of things to do that stretches the length of…well, more than one human could possibly get done in a day.
It’s likely true that “you cannot get everything done today.”
However! you can get one or two things done toward many of the things on your list. Working TOWARD a goal is not as emotionally satisfying as the feeling of completing something. So, here is the trick. Consider that one thing or those two things as independent tasks. And take joy and personal reward when you complete them. In that you will know you have propelled yourself one or two steps closer to finishing the current list of Everything. Daily doing that one thing is one of the keys to true effectiveness.
I am often in a hurry. I try to be mindful as I hurry, but still, it’s a hurry-up-and-get-the-next-thing-done kind of hurry. And I have lots of “next things.” When that hurry-ness combines with anxiety, or concern, or just plain ‘ole tired crankiness, it’s not a pretty picture.
I got to see my “shadow self” today at the store. Johnathan – I remember his name thanks to his name tag and the unique spelling – helped me search for just the right, old-timey kind of light replacement that our ancient rental house needed. He was speaking to me showing four different options when a woman came up to us and in the middle of one of his sentences, thrust an old light bulb in front of him. “Where will I find these?” He looked at me. I smile and nodded. He answered her question and told her exactly the location she would find them. She remained standing there. He continued to speak with me. She demanded, “Show me.” He smiled. A this-woman-reminds-me-of-my-cranky-grandma-smile. He was soft and kind. “I sure will. Give me some moments to finish here and I will help you.” I found what I needed, he helped me save $7 and I was happy at every level. I went to the cash register.
I was really happy with what I saw. They had just reconfigured their counter area. More spacious. A single line for four cashiers instead of the four line cashier lottery we all used to have to play. There was some serious commercially oriented feng shui at play here. As I was spotting all the positive changes, the other light bulb shopper came up behind me. “THIS? THIS is the line? Sheesh.” I said nothing. Another staff person asked the line to swing around to make room for shoppers in the aisle. “Swing around and branch out here, please?” he asked.Still, so new, they were learning the human flow to go with their physical changes. She muttered, well, more uttered loudly, “Branch all right, like a tree this line’s so long.” I’d been handing out my reader-suggested encouraging statement cards on errands all morning. To grand response and happy results. Something told me to keep the cards in their box with light bulb lady. I said nothing.
Then. I heard it. The rapid expulsion of air. My sure sign of frustration and impatience. Not a rapid breath out like your yoga teacher asks you to give. No. This is more like one’s breath stomping its metaphorical feet. The cashier called out, “Next guest?” I stepped aside. I gestured for her to go. Suspicious, she said, “Why?” “You are in a hurry. I’m not. Go ahead.” And she did.
I went to the next cashier. Bought my light bulb. As I glanced over my shoulder on the way out I heard her breath stomping again before she said, “What do you MEAN that you…” I was outside before I heard the rest. And I paused. I asked myself to remember this day. What does a cranky hurry bring? Would she still have been waiting in cranky conversation with the clerk I had if I hadn’t offered her the opportunity to go before me? I won’t ever know and that’s not really the point. I asked myself to remember the difference between feeling in a hurry and selecting behavior that is productive and efficient. And if I feel compelled to give a rapid breath out in the midst of a store, let’s hope I remember to take a slow deep breath in, first, and release it quickly. Just like my yoga instructor taught me!