Early morning disturbing dream: black smoke is billowing from somewhere in our front yard. I don’t want to jump out of bed and take care of a fire first thing in the morning, but of course, putting out the fire forces a higher priority than anything else. That’s the nature of putting out fires, and why it’s a figure of speech in time management jargon, meaning a task that must be done for critical reasons before the situation gets worse. It was not one of the original, truly important projects, but gets jumped forward out of necessity.
A too-long list awaited me this morning, enough to discourage getting up at all, or to encourage jumping right to the job and bypassing my self-care and “sharpening -the-saw” practices that I know are a wise way to begin my day. I’ve made promises to other people and then used my time over the weekend to attend to important relationships. Well, maybe that’s wise in the view for the life span. Like the old saying goes, no one ever said on their death bed that they wished they’d spent more time at the office. And on the other hand, probably no one has expressed satisfaction over a lifetime of putting out fires, the metaphorical ones anyway. Only a career fire fighter would feel pride in spending time and energy that way.
Those professional fire fighters are getting a lot of work this summer already. I read an article in this morning’s news listing all the current wildfires in our state alone; the acreage burned, the extent contained, the impact on local communities in terms of roads, campgrounds, homes and businesses, smoke drift and air quality. I learned in the article that there is an “emergency conflagration act,” which the governor is invoking.
How do I keep my projects from becoming an emergency conflagration? Nike says, “Just Do It,” Brian Tracy, referring to the wisdom of Mark Twain, says “Eat That Frog,” advising getting the most odious chore done right away so you don’t spend your whole day dreading it. And just as I turn on the computer and get set up to scratch one of my “fires” off my list, we get a call from the power company, who will show up shortly to dig a trench for an upgrade in the underground wire. The trench line will go right through where we planted garlic last fall, combining food production and decorative landscaping. So, we go out with a shovel and harvest garlic. One bulb gets damaged and I decide it’ll need to be used for supper tonight. New project: recipe for garlic and green beans, or something. Oh, I see what just happened: I do it to myself. I have no one else to blame for additions to my to-do list landing faster than I can scratch them off. The air quality is declining as I fill my life with too many to-dos. There’s plenty of oppression in the world without me creating my own oppression.
That’s where discipline comes in. Rather than dreading or suffocating in obligations, I can commit to spending time and energy, as well as choosing what really matters to me. Discretion is an element of discipline. And when I bring in choice, it always feels better. Then I can access joy.
That’s what I’ve learned from Nia Technique. We go for a sensation of joy and vitality by making choices, sometimes little ones in the moment, sometimes really big ones, but choosing, rather than being stuck spending my life only doing what shows up and demands immediate attention.
For more on infusing your life with choice and vitality, join me for a Nia Art of Sensation Training.