The Flipside of Mindfulness


It's been a while since I've written anything. The story isn't new; work has been busy, my off-time is limited and equally exhausting, [insert excusatory platitudes here]. It's incredibly frustrating to me how difficult it has been to do anything other than grind through the errands of the day. Pazi has suggested that my focus on daily tasks has left me little time to do any psychological housekeeping. Since I've learned to listen to her advice (when I'm not being a stubborn bitch), I've taken a few steps I think will help.

First of all, I've moved my workout from mid-evening to immediately after work. In the past I've dismissed this option as I assumed the gym would be packed with professionals just getting off the job. Of course, I don't live in a suburb, but a neighborhood near Minneapolis's artsy district. Mostly I see mothers of Somali families -- sneakers dashing under beautifully colored robes -- along with students and day laborers.  It is more busy at 5pm than my usual 8pm, but I often find an open parking spot and an open machine to toil at for 30 to 50 minutes. I'm usually done and showered by 5:30 or 6pm, leaving a preceptively huge amount of time in my evenings.

The greater amount of contiguous free-time has allowed me more time to enjoy myself in the evenings. Lately, much of this time has been used to play Mass Effect, although I try to put that down for the day by 8pm. Furthermore, I try not to play video games two days in a row.

Interestingly, what I enjoy the most about this new schedule is how I have time to simply sit and process. I tend to like turning over a thought in my mind before acting on it. The events of the last few years have resulted in a huge backlog of things to think about, little of which I have bothered to confront. When so much is happening to you, so quickly, so often, it's easy to want to push it all aside for another day. The problem occurs when life adds more to your queue before you have the chance to empty it. In that state, it becomes easy to never deal with the backlog, and only deal with the most immediate, most pressing issues as they occur. You might call this the flipside of mindfulness.

In not giving myself time to process and deal with the backlog, I've effectively shutdown the mechanism by which I am able to create. It's like shutting down the Coriolis Wind to deal with a particularly nasty weather system. Sure, it may be effective, but the cost outweighs the benefit.