We’re getting ready to head out on our annual trip to my home town in Michigan. After a history of loading the week before vacation with all kinds of miscellaneous tasks I decided MUST happen before leaving, I’ve been slowly learning to evaluate what really relates to the trip.
This time the decision to go was kind of last minute. We started to make this trip last June and a series of health issues for my mother have kept us postponing until, instead of going at a new time as we’d hoped, we’re going just a couple of weeks later than our usual time. At the end of last week she finally had resolved the main issues and I realized if we don’t go this week we really can’t.
Getting a long-overdue haircut was one of the things on my fairly short list of trip prep stuff for the week. But sleepless nights and headaches and various small things going awry added up to having trouble fitting it in. And the thing is I’ve been wearing my hair pulled into a clip for some years now, so having my hair cut to a certain length or style doesn’t make the difference it made when I had a more precisely cut “do”. So, as the days went on I shrugged and quietly lobbed “must get haircut” off the list.
The whole process of consciously addressing my habit of overdoing during the week before travel followed years of health issues causing me to stop and evaluate what really had to be done and what was dispensable in general. Took a while to realize it was also a big issue before taking a trip. Working on the travel aspect has me thinking about busy-ness in general and how I see people handling their long lists. It often feels to me as if it’s become fashionable to have an overloaded schedule and many people seem to feel there’s something wrong with them if their schedule isn’t totally loaded.
In the midst of the frantically filled schedules I see lots of the same issues I’ve had about deciding what really has to be done. I remember a friend in a state of high anxiety giving me a list of Christmas must-dos — most with made-up deadlines — and explaining how frantic she felt.
The next item up for her was some outdoor decorating scheme. I understood that all of this felt like “have-tos” for her but I didn’t understand why they HAD to be done. I finally asked whether anyone would die or be maimed if she just didn’t decorate the yard. She looked shocked and admitted no one would. But I could tell that, even though my question caused her to think about it, she didn’t want to let go of being frantic.
I see people all the time being frantic about lists, driving themselves crazy over stuff that, to me, shouldn’t be considered big stuff. To me, if nobody’s going to die or be maimed or permanently emotionally traumatized from the doing or not doing of it, it’s small stuff.
I also see a lot of folks who add to their sense of having no time by exaggerating their thoughts about how long things will take. Sometimes its purely a mental exaggeration and sometimes they add a list of steps to it that don’t really need to be part of it (like thinking up things to do before I leave on vacation). I remember sitting with two friends, trying to arrange a time in the next two weeks to meet for planning an event.
One of them went on about how she didn’t know how she could meet for an hour because she had some furniture arriving which would mean needing to move some other furniture. My other friend and I looked at one another, puzzled, and later we wondered how many times she planned on moving every piece if it was going to fill an entire two weeks… The sad thing was she was really wound up about it
Before life led me in a new direction, I stayed too busy and lived with great anxiety about trivial tasks. I didn’t know how to set priorities by importance and tended to treat little things as if they carried life and death import. Over the years I’ve been cutting back, most people have been speeding up and making their lists longer.
It’s strange to me that it’s become such a fashion to be anxious and frantic and over-scheduled. I don’t think people look all that good when anxious or racing frantically around, so I find it an odd trend. But I do get that if you never sit down you never have a quiet moment to feel the stuff you don’t want to look at.
I feel like so many people would be more relaxed if they learned how to lob the seriously unimportant stuff, to de-prioritize less important stuff, and/or get a realistic sense of what needs doing and how long it will take to do it. Personally I highly advise working on a more relaxing lifestyle before you run yourself down so much a health issue forces you to do it.
And the health and relaxation that come from facing the shadows after you sit still for a minute … WOW! I’m just sayin’…
Meanwhile, I’m almost packed, the house sitter’s room is ready and off we go…