Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Coping, Today

I don't know if this says something about my own nature, or whether it's something more or less inherent in the modern western world we live in. But the truth is that I honestly cannot remember the last time I felt the contentment that goes with feeling that everything's done which needs to be done.

My work days end with dozens of in-progress tasks, all with very urgent deadlines, that aren't yet completed. On a given day, I've probably made progress toward completing some of them, but the moment one small duty is completed, two more have popped up to take its place. Contracts to negotiate, schedules to be approved, budgets to be created, initiatives to be launched.

At home, there are always garden beds to be weeded, siding to be patched, carpeting to be replaced, floors to be refinished, leaky faucets to be repaired, kids to be counseled, trip reservations to be made.

It can all be a little overwhelming and crazy-making, especially when I get seduced by the wish for an end to chaos.

So my method of coping is this: Rather than aiming for permanent Completion of Duties, I simply give myself a small moment of private recognition whenever I've done something that is helpful in any way. Days are generally full of these small opportunities, ranging from opening a locked door for an employee who needs access to a studio, to approving a check request, to making a decision for somebody who needs one, to answering a question from a consumer who calls with a problem. At home, pulling a single noxious weed is helpful, changing the bag on the vacuum cleaner is helpful, so I take note of that small act of helpfulness.

Generally, this means small celebrations of what I CAN do, and little time spent thinking about what I WISH I could do. Focusing on the process of life rather than a goal.

That's in my better moments. In more difficult ones, I still long for a perfection that is far beyond me.

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