The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

A question on Priorities

A question:
Dear Steve,

When pushed against a sudden deadline are there things you give up to
get there?  My grandmother's stuff is getting here in two-weeks, she'll
get here whenever rehab (for a stroke, not addiction) feels she's
ready.  I'm still doing twenty minutes on my bike, and either yoga or
bellydancing later in the day, but no longer both.  The kids make it
quite clear that they can not be put off and the housework is kinda key
to being ready for the stuff and grandma.  I've considered giving up
the time I spend cooking in favor of convenience foods but we'll all be
sniffly, cranky and tired if I don't cook real food for two weeks.  So
I've given up creativity to create more time and I'm jonesing. 
ANSWER:  life always intervenes, and it must be coped with.  But some irreducable amount of the day belongs to YOU.  Call it five minutes (although I'd like it if it were more.)  I've never met anyone so busy that they didn't have five minutes.  If it feels as if  you don't, that's just the dragon of mediocrity trying to steal your life.  Tell it to shut the #@$$ up.  My priorities are clear:
1) Family
2) Writing
3) Martial arts.
But note: there is a minimum amount of writing I need to say sane, and a minimum amount of physical movement to stay healthy.  and a minimum amount of meditation to stay centered.  When life gets so busy that it seems I don't have time for these things, I GET SUSPICIOUS.  Remember:  your life will try to maintain homeostasis.  You will have to FIGHT for every inch of growth.  Try to steal one hour back from the world.  Remember the "Golden Hour?"  Well, maybe for  the time being it's the "golden half-hour."  Prioritize.  What do you need to stay healthy?  Less than this , and you are NOT benifiting your family, regardless of what your inner demons say.  If you spend less than 10-15 minutes on your body, this is just pathology, not outer pressure.  If you don't have five minutes to breathe properly, this is pathology.  If you don't have five minutes to write out your goals for the day, this is pathology.
We must learn to tell the difference between what is urgent, and what is important.  Inevitably, an individual day or week may come that throws our ordinary lives out of whack.  this is when we go back to our simplest, most basic 5-15 minutes of meditation, movement.  but if it becomes common, look at it more closely.  Remember that change is HARD, hon.  If it was easy, we'd all be angels.


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