Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on DiscoverySchool.com
In college, my friends and I developed a theory about the three main aspects of university life:
It occurs to me as I try to squeeze in home-cleanliness, responsible pet ownership, career, writing, family (both extended and immediate), socialization, recycling, reading, bill-paying, car upkeep, health, pop-culture junkiness, and a host of other responsibilities--that I can't have it all. I didn’t even mention sleep. Starting Monday, I cut into sleep a little bit further each night, so that by Friday, sleep has grown into a giant beast that hates accomplishment. Sleep pushes away my laptop and doesn't care about my dirty dishes, my unfinished chapter, Project Runway.
I don't even remember sleep from college, but it must have been there. The sleep urge seems to get stronger with age, but even it is not invincible. Certain books challenge sleep, and occasionally I get so into writing that everything else cowers: the gym is a den for the self-obsessed, my house is an important observation site for dust growth, and I don't know what happens to the rest of that stuff. I guess it evaporates.
Anyway, I am noticing a pattern:
- I come down with an inspiration-virus, which hits me with the mistaken notion that I can do everything. It's all a matter of following lists and not reading Perez Hilton.
- I create a color-coded schedule of tasks: solve world hunger, dust curtain rods, write a poem.
- The next few days I try valiantly to do it all, then settle for most. A battle ensues between the inspiration-virus and the growing strength of sleep beast. They fight. Sleep wins.
- By Thursday, I am a petri dish of self-hatred. I've completed 50% of my plans; yet I feel like 100% failure. To coddle myself, I read all the Perez I've missed and grow angry as I count typos and realize that most of his posts are a whole lot of nothing described in sensationalistic language intended to make me think it’s important… AND I AM FALLING FOR IT!
- I flog myself metaphorically, continue to tread the quickly rising water of my life, cultivate the inspiration-virus, and repeat.
I am Atlas, only I carry the world in a lumbar-supportive backpack. It doesn’t fit, but I squeeze the planets and shove them in, latch the bulging flaps, and reattempt my climb.
Oh wise blog-readers, this is a call to your collective knowledge. The sleep beast is a kitten compared to the unhappiness monster that will overtake me if I continue this pattern. But what stays, what goes? And how to battle the feeling of not doing enough despite doing all I can? Explain, please, how you achieve balance.