Monday, December 19, 2016

Pressure and Relief

I’m cold, tired, and sore, but there are only a few days of school left before break. I think I can, I think I can…
Last week I began getting rid of a few things and will be back at it today. The idea isn’t to live a spartan, minimal life so much as to put myself in the mindset of what does and does not matter. When I focus this way on simple, material things, I’m better focused about more important issues and more likely to be content and happy.
Besides, my life is crowded. There’s little room on the shelves in my office. I’m pressed for space.
I’m pressured by my library books, four or five waiting to be read. One can’t be renewed. I’m stalled in Jenna Woginrich’s Cold Antler Farm, the second of hers I’ve read. I would quit it, but find something worthwhile on every tenth page or so, damn it. I’ve gone through 30 pages today and will finish tomorrow. I need to get back to reading a lot. Not reading is a source of pressure.
Also pressing are the student papers to read. Grades are due Wednesday morning. Today is almost as good a day to finish them as yesterday and better than tomorrow. I want to be the guy who has already graded those papers. Maybe by tomorrow I will be.
It’s too easy to give into the pressure. This morning I was distracted by the driveway snow needing to be cleared, the empty jerrican of gas for the snowblower, and six errands to do after work (hardware store, pharmacy, bookstores, bread for dinner, dog walk, garbage and recycling). The only way to contentment is to clear them away one at a time. Write this piece first. What comes next will be what comes next. Pressure comes from thinking. Relief is in doing and then doing more.
This morning, the job I was distracted from was hand writing three pages and discouraged until I wrote: ”I have a page and a quarter left to write but my immediate task is to fill this line. There is no snow to clear, no day-job to go to, no book to finish, no errands to run. I can’t unclutter all my life right now, but I can let off some pressure by finishing these pages.” I kept writing.
I cleared the driveway, went to my job, ran errands, walked the dog, brought the garbage and recycling to the curb. While the water boiled for afternoon coffee, I put away the food processor, carried laundry to the washing machine, washed dishes, and got the computer set to revise this morning’s pages into this blog entry. I too often forget to credit these sorts of things as good work. I don’t believe they push my life forward, but imagine a life I fail to maintain. The pressure would blow my lid.
Maintenance relieves pressure and makes space. Each thing is a tiny increment but they add up. More than twelve hours after I woke distracted and feeling pressured, I type these words from the pages I wrote this morning and feel content, maybe even happy.
I’m still tired and sore, still a little cold. Winter in Syracuse will do that. There remains too many things crowding the house and two many to-dos crowding my mind, but this piece is done. And as for doing more, I think I can, I think I can.