Artist: Leigh Matson
I have a habit of being late. Not for an interview or work – I am fully responsible there, but for something that might be enjoyable for me such as a session, an outing, an exercise class. I try to fit in all sorts of little things that seem to suddenly become important to do before I go. I get on a momentum and start rushing. Time seems to speed up and I need to hurry to get out the door.
What’s going on here?
Do I feel guilty for enjoying myself?
I remember sometimes enjoying a moment of repose and being told, “Don’t sit there doing nothing, do something useful – go help your mother”.
But is there something more?
I remember as a university student always leaving assignments until the last minute. It would suddenly seem so important to clean my room or weed the garden, anything to avoid studying for an exam. Then a day or night before, the pressure would get so great I would start work and apply myself with a rigid focus staying up all night to cram in the information. It was as if I needed stress to motivate me and adrenalin to stimulate me. It worked in the sense that I achieved good marks but none of the information was retained beyond the dead-line.
It certainly was a dead line. I got caught in a lineal perception of time, under the illusion that there is somewhere to get to that will be an achievement of some sort which will give me some recognition, approval and relief from the pressure.
And it killed my body, taking me days to fully recover, though I bounced back readily enough to do it all again next time. Time might be ‘of the essence’ but I am certainly not ‘of the essence’ when racing towards a dead-line. Other expressions such as ‘running late’, ‘running to time’ suggest that we are being ruled by time and that is certainly how it feels for my movements are dictated by the time pressure which is horrendously contracting to the point that I can hardly breathe.
I realise that I am addicted to stress and overwhelm and the subsequent feeling of relief which gives the illusion that I have done something important and can deserve a break from it. Sheer madness!
“I’m late, I’m late for a very important date”, said the White Rabbit who is constantly looking at his large fob watch, on his way to Nowhere. This character from Alice in Wonderland highlights the absurdity of being run by the clock. Like the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party – sheer madness!
Why am I addicted to stress? To this overwhelm-relief pattern?
Why can I not allow myself space to enjoy life?
It’s a form of self-sabotage – a plot to stop me going into repose.
Because when I am in repose I am connected to the universe – I feel spacious, full and grand.
Why would I not want to be like this?
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Learning to Self-Nurture in my Elder Years