To-do List Interrupted

“There is something joyful about storms that interrupt routine. Snow or freezing rain suddenly releases you from expectations, performance demands, and the tyranny of appointments and schedules. All those affected . . . are united by a mutual excuse, and the heart is suddenly and unexpectedly giddy. There will be no apologies needed for not showing up to some commitment or other. Everyone understands and shares in this singular justification, and the sudden alleviation of the pressure to produce makes the heart merry . . . somehow each person feels like the master of his or her own world, simply because those little droplets of water freeze as they hit the ground.”

These words, from the opening chapter of Wm. Paul Young’s book, The Shack, perfectly described the glee I felt last week when I woke to find the world wrapped in a muffler of white.

School buses were cancelled.

Neighbours were getting stuck in their own driveways.

Facebook friends were declaring snow days.

And I gave myself permission to do the same.

I cancelled, postponed or skipped out on every appointment/commitment filling my day.

I flipped my to-do list on it’s face and asked, “Maxine, what do you want to do, right now?”

My heart gave a little leap and led me

to my lonely, dust-covered guitar.

I received it for my birthday years ago, but over time it has reverted from musical instrument to room decoration.

I sat in my pajamas and strummed it for awhile with no agenda other than to see what sounds I could create.

I had no choice. I had long-forgotten everything I had taught myself from Hal Leonard Guitar Method Book 1.

So I just strummed.

And my heart gave a blissful sigh of pleasure.

There’s something delicious about creative mucking about. It doesn’t matter what the medium: music, paint, words, leftovers (for those people who actually do love to cook-which I always find just a titch hard to believe), clay, beads, fabric. It feels so good to play, especially if you are able to park perfection at the door and give yourself permission to make an ugly, tuneless mess.

Of course, I was only able to do that for so long.

Eventually my perfection-seeking self took over. I got out my handy- dandy-no-musical-ability-necessary-battery-operated tuner, just in case I could improve the sounds a bit by making sure each string made the green button light up.

There’s something satisfying about that, too – taking something that had strayed from it’s function and bringing it back into alignment.

But a couple of the strings refused to be tuned.

No matter which way or how much I turned the keys, the sound did not improve.

I moved on to the rest of the strings and came back to the two non-compliant ones. After several minutes of fussing, I followed one string to its source and discovered that I had been turning the wrong key for the string I was trying to tune.

Here was an ‘aha’ moment at its best.

How often do I see a problem and focus all my attention on solutions that have nothing to do with the root cause of the problem?

Problem: feeling suffocated by an over-full schedule.

Solution: kick into do-ing mode, dig in my heels, pull up my bootstraps, gird my loins, summon my will power, power up, power through, make longer and longer to-do lists, micromanage every second of my time.

And pray for snowstorms.

Instead of following the string of duties back to its source and loosening the key /cutting myself some slack / remembering that this all started because I allowed something I loved to be taken over by . . . what?

I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Oh my goodness! Two lightbulb moments in one day!

I answered my own question half a page ago when I wrote, taking something that had strayed from it’s function and bringing it back into alignment.

I guess it depends on what you believe your function is here on earth. My idea of that has slowly been changing as I work with Karen McMullen in her Live Your Genius program and as I read the posts of a woman by the name of Jean Watier. They both consistently remind me that we are here to do what we love, to follow our bliss and to live joyfully in each moment.

Sounds lovely. I long for that. Some days I manage to get a good start before I get sucked back into the sticky morass of duty and obligation.

Which isn’t surprising considering I’ve got almost 50 years of training in that regard.

But awareness is always the first step, isn’t it?

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