It was not just my inbox that was over-crowded - every facet of my life seemed to be bursting at the seams, including my heart and my head. The tools that should help me control my life were instead controlling me. And then I went on vacation. I did check email every couple of days but I only answered one time-sensitive critical message. The rest were simply sorted into 4 categories - Urgent (to be dealt with Day One upon my return), Important (by the end of Week One upon my return), It Can Wait (and still is), and Junk which I immediately dispatched to the trash with delight. But that was it. The only other apps I used were Harbor Master (don’t judge), Kindle (still blows my mind how much easier it is to pack when you don’t need space for reading material!!!), and an atlas app to help me understand where in the world we were (it actually holds promise for remediating my embarrassing deficit in geographical grounding).
I came home a changed woman. The buzz that was the accumulative ricochet of millions of often useless but ambitious data bits screaming for my attention had died from neglect. To wake up with the only decision being where to ski and who gets to choose a dinner spot is bliss. A space opens up where everything slows down and you can actually pay attention to one thing, one person, one strand of thought for more than a minute. It’s a blessing and a cure. Now the trick is to see how long I can hold on to this peace. No illusions. I’m 5 days back and I’ve already been pulled into the deep end of overload, but I’m aware of both the falling, and the coming back to center. I’m aware of both the need to retreat and the way to do it. See it, distance it, let go and breathe.
One of the first things I did when I returned was to sign up for a mindful leadership retreat. If there’s one thing I need for myself that will also do the most to benefit my work, my family, and my friends is to hold onto this space, for the clarity it provides feels like intelligence, the calmness like joy.
|Alba di Canazei -Photo by Steve Silk|