I'm the kind of person who likes to stay on top of things. I keep a hanging file folder for everything from my taxes to my blender. I never let my gas tank get below a quarter tank. I love to write down chores on a piece of paper, knock off every item on the checklist, then crumple that paper in my hand and slam dunk it in a waste basket.
Yeah. I'm a real barrel of fun.
It's taken me years to perfect my Type-A routine so everything gets accomplished. On Mondays, I pay my bills and clean the house, the car, and my building. On Tuesdays, I take out the trash and buy groceries. Wednesdays are for watering the plants and filling the bird feeders. You get the gist.
But it's not working lately. Between the building, the music career, and the family with a sick baby who is having her third surgery next week, I'm drowning. That high-and-mighty perch that I once liked to look down from just keeps moving farther and farther away. No matter how hard I try, I can't stay on top of things. I'm fighting the undertow all the time.
Here's the kicker, though. Nobody else thinks I'm drowning. In fact, everybody else thinks I'm doing ok. To the outside world, I'm just an ambitious woman learning to navigate her changing circumstances. And I frequently wonder: how can I have fooled everybody? Don't they all see that I'm falling short? Don't they know I'm floundering? Don't they see me flailing like a crazy person?
Answer: of course they don't see. They don't see because the water is invisible to everyone but me. Those tidal waves of unmet expectations and chores and standards that are crashing down all around me were created by me. I made up that ocean I'm drowning in.
And I can just as easily let it go.
Reader, if you too are the kind of person who holds yourselves to self-made standards that are swallowing you, I'd like to extend an invitation to you to join me in bidding some of them farewell. There's is no "best kept house" or "best parent" or "best business owner" award that you can take with you when you die. Maybe it's time we let go of staying on top of the things, and just be ok with living in the middle of them.
And with that, I'm hitting the hay. I leave you with a picture of my gig from last Sunday. I remember feeling so anxious during my first set. But here's how I looked to the crowd (photo by John Connell). I'm reminded how good it is to see ourselves from another person's vantage point. See you next Sunday. -Em