While some people operate in "catch-up" mode, I am constantly in what I consider "get ahead" mode. It's one reason I'm always checking e-mail--if I stay on top of it then I can deal with things as they come in and not let them pile up and voila!--I'm "ahead." Yes, I realize it rarely works that way. My constant e-mail checking instead allows me to put off doing the real work that actually would place me ahead.
But this nagging feeling of "stay on top, don't fall behind," permeates into every area of my life. Blair and I will be in the car and I'll be giving orders, "Hurry, we can pass that car. Go around this guy. Hurry and we'll make the light!" Blair always asks, "What's the rush? We've got plenty of time." And we do. But I feel the persistent need to be ahead in case something goes wrong. I'm anxious in the grocery store if my line is moving slower than the others. I don't like it if the yoga class I attend doesn't start right on time because then we'll get out late and oh my God, it's like the end of the world to me.
I'm working on letting go of this feeling. It's a hard process--like changing the core of your being. Still, I don't want to go through life feeling like I'm racing against an unknown enemy. This weekend, for example, I "let go."
Checking e-mail on Saturday, I received the edited versions of several written pieces I'd been waiting for. My impulse was to dive in and compare the edited versions to my original ones, see if I had any comments and e-mail my reply. I got excited about doing the work. Why? Because if I cleared it off my plate now, then I'd be ahead for Monday. I took a deep breath and set it aside.
I received an e-mail from a fellow writer I've been trying to arrange a lunch date with. I wanted to break out my day planner and check the date--just so I wouldn't have to deal with it on Monday. I gritted my teeth and moved on to the next e-mail.
In Saturday's mail, I received copies of two articles coming out in the next issue of a pet magazine, which reminded me these people are woefully behind in their payments owed me. I fought against racing upstairs and tackling that issue immediately.
Now of course I could have done any of those items this weekend and yes, I would be ahead of the game in that I wouldn't have to deal with them today. But looking at the big picture, I'd only be marginally "ahead" and I would have had to give up my weekend time to do it. What I need to realize is there will always be tiny issues popping up and I will never be able to say I'm 100% fully caught up, because there's always something waiting in the wings.
Which ironically circles me back to that slightly panicked feeling of "then I'd better do what I can now because who knows what really big event might come along to suck up all my time."
And yet, it's Monday, it's sunny, Olivia was in my lap purring a few minutes ago and I just brewed a pot full of Snickerdoodle decaf coffee and the smell permeates the house. Life is good. It will take less than an hour to e-mail the friend, fire off an e-mail demanding my money to the publisher of the magazine that owes me, and do a quick printout and comparison of my articles. Less than an hour. Leaving me plenty of time to tackle the other Monday morning workday tasks that await.
Here's to not being ahead, not being behind, but instead, just enjoying the ride.