Volume 2, Issue 22: On Being Deliberate

Hi friends! This week during a one-on-one meeting with one of my day job coworkers I said, “The burned-out in me recognizes the burned-out in you.” We laughed but I immediately felt a shift in our energy as we both acknowledged that we each have very little to give lately. It definitely decreased the amount of pressure I was feeling to prove that I am on top of everything (I am not).

I have had so much going on during my work days that it has been leaving me absolutely fried and unable to do most things during the evenings and weekends. My work day involves being on the computer all day. My writing and many things I want to do in the evenings and on weekends also involve being on the computer, which is often the last place I want to be. So then I tinker around and maybe do a little tidying (emphasis on little) and end up staring at my phone.

Then, at the end of the evening or weekend I tell myself, “Well, you tried but it seems like your brain needed that rest and to zone out.” This is a fine thing to say sometimes and by no means am I saying that I (or any of us) needs to be productive at all waking moments; however, when I say this night after night and weekend after weekend, how much is it “My brain needs rest” and how much is it plain ol’ avoidance? Shutting down? Dissociating? Which hey, I read over a hundred books a year. I’m all for escapism! But is it really escaping when I’m scrolling through my feeds mindlessly? On top of that, how do I feel after I do that? Do I feel good and refreshed? Has my motivation returned? Or do I just feel depleted?

Being overwhelmed by the amount of things I want to do and the amount of things that I need to do to pay the bills has been making me almost 100% reactive lately. That is, I just feel like I’m being tossed about at sea with no engine or oars or rudder. A complete lack of control or say in the direction that my little boat is taking. Then the feeling of out-of-control-ness is also overwhelming. So then I just curl up with my phone and scroll.

I was recently given a tool that I have been practicing this week and I wanted to share it with you because it’s been an interesting exercise: Periodically through the day, or at least during those times when I am not doing the things I have declared that I want to be doing, I say to myself, “I am choose to [do this thing] right now.” For example, I’ve probably said to myself dozens of times this week, “I’m choosing to watch Instagram stories right now” or “I’m choosing to doom-scroll Twitter right now.” If I really needed what I was doing, if it sparked joy or cultivated restfulness, then I would keep doing it.

But you know what? It never did. Not one single time did I think, “I’m choosing to [do this thing] right now” and be excited about it. Each time my reaction was like, “Ugh god why am I choosing to do this right now?!” and then I would choose to do something else that brings more fulfilment. It didn’t even have to be a chore or sitting down to write or something woefully productive. Sometimes it would just be to put on music and dance for a whole song or to stretch or prune a plant or read a few pages of whatever books I’m reading at the moment.

I get in such a spiral about how time is precious and time is something that I cannot recover once it is past. I have full-on crises about “wasting” time which is a whole thing that I am working on. But this exercise about being deliberate with what I choose to do and being present has started to help me feel more in control of my sailing vessel.

That’s it for this week! You can shop any books I’ve mentioned in this newsletter at my affiliate shop, The Infophile’s Bookshop, and support independent bookstores. If you want to send me some snail mail, you can find me at P.O. Box 21481, Oakland, CA 94620-1481. If you want me to send you some happy mail, feel free to give me your address.

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