I tend to like to write something at the end of a year, of the beginning of the next, looking back and forward, as I’ve done most years since I started this blog.
This year was funny, though.
It’s been a while since I’ve done much partying on new year’s; long years since I’ve found myself in a new year’s kiss with some luscious stanger, and several since I’ve gone farther than to a neighbor’s house to greet a new year.
But this New Year, more than most, was simply a Day Off.
New yera’s eve,I watched a ball drop on tape from some other time zone, watched confetti fly, and heard my children whooping out in the street as the yelled happy new year up and down our quiet suburban street. A digit rolled to a new year that should seem an un-imaginiably high number for this tail-end baby boomer.
And I shrugged, and put the kids to bed, and put on another DVD of Entourage.
I woke on new year’s day with no hangover, no lipstick-of-unknown-origin anywhere on my body. I made my coffee and ate what toast, and wasn’t aware of the date until I switched on the TV. I spent the morning watching hockey, and the afternoon in Monterey, CA at the aquarium with my family.
Today, I starting thinking about new year’s resolutions; which I generally don’t make, and when made, always break. But it’s been a year where things seemed to get away from me.
Time, I think, is the biggest one; it seems where two or three years ago I managed to write, and to party, and to just hang out a lot more. I spent time away from work, taking off mid day for no reason other than because I felt like it. This last year, work’s begun to overwhelm me in ways I can’t recall it having done in years.
I have, at the best of times, a poor attention span. People tend to blame too much on things like add/adhd these days, seeing an acronym that describes a pattern of behavior as a medical diagnosis that covers everything they think might be wrong with them. In truth I have trouble sitting still, and (as those of you who know me in real life are well aware) I always seem to have my mind on five things at once. Much of the time, though, I manage to make that a career strength; I can handle many problems at the same time, several dialogs at once, and can get things done in starts and stops. It’s why, in part, I’m good at triage and emergencies, why I do support for a living, why I’m the one you want around when the sky falls.
This year, though, it’s gotten away from me. Even when I’m not actually working, my brain keeps switching focus, and I lose threads mid-way. This is getting in the way of dialog with friends, with home-front tasks as simple as paying bills. Worse, though, is that it’s making it hard for me to focus at work when things slow down. This last couple of weeks, my project moved to a phase that leaves us breathing room, and this is where I should be able to back up and say, what have we put aside for later these last six months? But I can’t. I keep task-shifting even though there are no urgent tasks to shift from and to.
This jumpiness is frustrating; because it makes me hesitate. I don’t start writing projects, knowing I’ll distract myself. I don’t make plans with friends of family, out of an instinctive feeling that I’m going to have to bolt at the last second because of some emergency. It’s like I can’t stop looking over my shoulder.
Over the last month, I’ve sat down to write at least a dozen times, and have nothing to show for it but titles and ill-formed thoughts that would have been essays or stories before.
It’s not just my creativity, my productivity, and my friendships that suffer. The ache in my joints isn’t just from being on the far side of 45; it’s from too many hours with my shoulders wire-tight, neck bent, eyes drilling into a monitor. It’s too much, too long; too many hours spend being there for everyone, everywhere.
As with everything else, time for my own care slips away from me. I haven’t been to the gym in months and months, havn’t maintained my general habits of good eating. I haven’t done things I enjoy or things I feel I need to do.
Something needs to change.
I do not, as I’ve said, make resolutions. And yet, the custom of self-review that goes with resolutions seems worthy, and if not at year’s end or year’s beginning, then when?
So I tell myself, as I listen to rain and thunder outside my window and think of what I’ve let slip away, get control of it. I need to stop feeling driven by my world, by the clock, by what other people want and need, and step back, and take what I need. I’ve given too much, the last couple of years, let too much slip between my fingers. And time is where it needs to start.