Being me

Sometimes when I am struggling for inspiration, I pull a book from the bookshelf and randomly open it – to see what the universe will deliver to me.  On the last occasion I tried this, I encountered Stephanie Dowrick  recommending to me the exploration of various freedoms to which we might aspire.  The one which grabbed me was “Freedom to watch your own life unfolding”.

So this is what I watched unfold around a recent job I had to do.  I reckoned there were 4 or 5 days work in this job, and I had 4 or 5 months in which to complete it.  But I’ll be damned if I could knuckle down to it, despite notionally setting aside various chunks of time to do it, or even just to make a start on it.

The whole process of putting the job off on a continuing basis made me feel diminished, less capable, not as good as I should be.

Of course, the job got to the stage one week out from the deadline, with bugger-all done on it.  That pretty much meant it had to be started right then – which was of course just the incentive I needed.  I put in the solid time needed over the next few days, and even though I had prospectively cadged an extra day onto the deadline from the client, I actually submitted it before the deadline expired.

Look, I tried a number of times to screw myself up to start the job early, and it just didn’t work for me.  After the first few times, I realised that not starting, then bashing myself up for not starting, was doubly unproductive.  “Feeling the second arrow” as the Buddhists put it, when you’ve already suffered one hit and then let yourself compound it.

Out of this observation process, I came first to the understanding, and then to the acceptance, that:

  • I simply work better with a sense of “immediacy”
  • Even with that immediacy factor, I practically always deliver on time
  • The output is good quality and the client is happy.

I may envy those people, like my wife, who invariably do those things which need doing at the first possible moment, rather than the last.  But I’m never going to be like that.  No amount of self help, or affirmations stuck on the wall, or rigorous diarising, is going to change me.  I simply do things best when I do them just-in-time.

It was a useful lesson.  It was also a re-inforcement that, for me, the most valuable freedom I will ever find is the freedom to accept who I am, and how I am, and to be okay with whatever each of those may turn out to be.  I’m not there yet, not by a long shot, but every time I dodge the second arrow I take  one little step along the path to freedom.

David Rowan White

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