This week I’m taking a break. I’m reading and writing and nothing else. My own personal retreat. I’m feeling better and I’d like to continue that success. I’m resting and waiting. I’m watching and processing. I’m accepting and yielding. For that reason, I’m reluctant to set any goals at all. For me, the pressure to produce is suffocating, and expectations only lead to failure and the obligation only leads to avoidance.
This week I’d like to just get up early every morning and see where the days take me. I’d like to ask nothing more of myself than to spend part of each day at my desk away from social media and another part between the pages of a few good books. Still, there are a few guidelines, reminders, and tasks I’d like to set for myself to keep from wasting time or wandering too easily when things get hard.
This week I will:
Keep up my daily routine. It’s too easy to fall into old habits, especially when away from work. I tend to stay up too late and lose too much of the day by sleeping in. I tend to forget my meals and my medication. I forget to drink water, to move my body, and to take care of my basic self-care and needs. This week I want to start and end each day as if I were heading off to work and instead of leaving I’ll spend tie cleaning and writing as my duty and service instead.
Finish my next long-form post. I’ve been working on the same piece for weeks now and it’s grown disordered, unwieldy, and full of tangents and side stories. I have the time now to hack and force it back into shape, but I know I will be reluctant to finish the job. If I remember that 90% is good enough and that no piece is beyond revisiting then I can finally make something somewhat cathartic and coherent out of these ugly words. Bonus: Go back to using Google Docs to draft posts. The built-in dictionary and “explore” feature keeps me from getting distracted.
Make some new collage art. I finally have the desk-wide self-healing cutting mat of my dreams, more X-Acto knife blade replacements than I will probably ever need, and plenty of magazine material to flip through. There is no excuse not to make a little something every week or so. Writing is great but time spent off screen making something with my hands give my mind time to rest, to breathe, to slip into a more abstract space than typing usually allows. One art feeds the other.
Read. I made great progress this weekend but I am still three books behind where I should be for this years reading goals. If I spend an hour each day at least reading a Penguin Little Black Classic rather than watching an episode of a show or scrolling Twitter I should easily be ahead of schedule before the end of the week. Next week I’ll move on to tacking the new ebooks I downloaded from Verso Books. Bonus: Tackle a few of those articles that have been piling up in your “to-read later” folder too.
Get ready for our big trip. In a few weeks my wife and I are heading up into the mountains for some much-needed time away from work, from the news, from the internet, from everything. It’s coming up on the one-year anniversary of our wedding and though it’s been one of our happiest (we’ve been together nearly 18 years now), it has also been one of the most stressful. We’re in desperate need of a reset and I want to make sure I’ve got everything we need squared away so we can leave the stress down here in the city.
This week I will not feel sorry for myself. I haven’t been feeling great and the world is in chaos. I’m feeling anxious and all around me there seems to be despair and death. I feel powerless, small, anxious, incompetent, and incapable, but I know none of those feelings reflect reality. They are only a reaction. They should be given their space to exist. They should be heard. They should even be learned from, but then they must be let go.
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash