It’s now been almost a week since my first chemo treatment. Today is the first day since my treatment that I am beginning to feel like myself again. It’s been hard to not physically feel up to doing the things I love most, like help with the fall roundup and fall cow work. Yet the last week has taught me that often doing nothing is more productive than spending a lot of time, energy and effort doing something that leads you in the wrong direction or is simply a distraction from being present and dealing with the one thing that you try hardest to avoid and dissociate from. Creative indolence often leads to great innovation. Some of our greatest mind have spent time in this very same place. Einstein wrote that some of his greatest ideas came to him so suddenly while he was shaving that he would often cut himself by surprise. He also said, “you can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created;” and, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Isn’t the real reason we want to accomplish more in less time, because we have other things we want to do besides work; you know those other enjoyable activities that we keep putting off? It seems to me that leads to truly an endless pursuit of happiness. Or just happiness postponed rather than realized?
The real problem is that somewhere along the way we managed to confuse accomplishment with happiness. Happiness started as the inspiration for achievement, but somehow things got reversed. Happiness became conditional. When being happy gets anchored in achievement, we can easily fall into the trap of projecting that happiness into the future. We put conditions on when we will allow ourselves to be happy. Being more productive is great. Getting more done in less time really is a good thing. But those are not legitimate reasons for missing out on happiness now.
There is no inherent conflict between being happy and being productive. Actually, the two go together very nicely. The only danger lies in getting out of balance and obsessing over productivity. There is a healthy sense of equilibrium between living in the present and planning for the future. We fall, when we lose our balance and allow the desire to accomplish more to become an obsession; when we allow ourselves to get so caught up in compulsive accomplishment that we forget who and what is really important to us right now. Make sure to take some time to enjoy your life in the present instead of waiting for someday, because all too often, someday never comes.
What is really behind our drive for increased productivity? Are we afraid we have no worth or value or worth if we are not productive?
The truth is our worth has nothing to do with how productive we are or how much money we earn! Believing that it does is a devastating point of view. If I earn $50 per hour and you earn $500, then I must be worth 90% less than you are. If I accept this premise, then I will probably develop some limiting beliefs about my worth as a person. If you agree with this value scale, then you will begin to think of yourself as superior. Both of these points of view are damaging to us as human beings and to our relationships.
Is the highly paid professional who earns a fortune pumping deadly toxins into the environment more valuable than a dedicated teacher who incites his students to reach for their dreams while maintaining personal integrity? Is the loving, nurturing mother who gave up her career to take care of her family and children, on the bottom of the value scale? Will our children understand why we could never be there for them because we think we are increasing our worth as a parent by working such long hours that we never get to see or spend time with them?
The value of money is tiny compared to the value of time. When we spend our valuable time we should view it as something that far exceeds the worth of money. Yes, it takes a certain amount of money to care for our material needs and wants, but that is just one, small aspect of life. Time is truly the currency of life. Our precious time is the real commodity of life. Recognizing its immense value helps us spend it wisely.
It’s not every day that you face your own mortality. One of the questions I’ve had to recently face is what happens to your life when you run out of time? We only have so much of this valuable commodity and when it’s gone all the money in the world can’t buy you more. When something like cancer brings knocks us to our knees, shredding apart our carefully planned lives, God is trying to get your attention to teach you that it’s not about the relentless striving but surrendering to Him, that He’s in control not you and honestly why would you want to be? My way certainly has not worked out so well up to this point. It’s about letting go of the old ways of being and thinking that got you to this point and discovering a new way of being, God’s way.
I am truly in a place in every aspect of my life that is a frustrating and uncomfortable limbo between letting go of the old and giving birth to the new. It’s a process, not something you barrel through in order to not face the uncomfortable emotions of it. It’s been a process of backing off, suspending goals and taking the time to dance with cancer mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually step by step. It’s an uncertain path that you take moment by moment, not knowing where it will lead or where it will end. Just as you can’t will the entire herd of cows to calve just during working hours, you can’t force this process to be over sooner just because it’s uncomfortable and inconvenient. It requires a great amount courage to live in uncomfortable emotions, physical pain and uncertainty day in and day out. It takes a great amount of courage to learn to fully and wholeheartedly surrender and have faith that God is recreating my life into something so much better and more amazing than I can ever imagine and accept and that it will likely require a period of focus and dedication. It takes courage to not falling into resenting God for having the path to this new and incredible life be that of cancer. What I can do is take care of myself, rest when tired because my immune system is weak with, get my priorities straight, enjoy each day with the people who mean the most to me, my family and friends, my horses, my dogs and Sundance kitty, keep my stress level down, continually do what I need to keep a positive frame of mind and my courage because I have no control over this situation and follow where God, my inspirations, love, enthusiasm and creativity may lead; living each day to the fullest in gratitude that I have time, life and that there are so many amazing souls in it and in awe and humility of God’s work in it all.