Archive for December 2013

To Do Today: Try Not to Think About Not Thinking

To Do Today: Try to learn not to rush through things, even when they’re unpleasant.

For instance, there’s exercise. This morning, as I was riding the stationary bike, I found myself performing random acts of mathematics to figure out how much longer I had to go until the clock hit zero. (If you know me, you also know what a frightening development this is. Math? Seriously?) And even within my fifty minute workout, I have intervals. For every five minutes, I do two at high intensity and three at normal. So I find myself monitoring those as well. And I’m becoming good at it.

Concentration is an issue for me, and I’ve been trying—though not as consistently as I should—to be deliberate and aware during all activities, especially unpleasant or mundane ones: taking out the garbage, cleaning the cat’s litterbox, washing clothes, shoveling snow, brushing my teeth, critiquing student essays (no offense, students. It’s not you—it’s me). The challenge is to try and keep from thinking about it, to even refrain from thinking about not thinking, to live each moment of whatever I’m doing not as something to do but as something to experience.

So I’m trying to make room for the things that matter most to me, but I’ve realized I’m approaching it from the wrong direction. Here’s an idea: First, do the things that matter most. Second, make time for the things I don’t necessarily value but that need to be done anyway. Maybe I’ll eventually discover that some of those unpleasant things are only unpleasant because I’ve labeled them that way.

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll learn to enjoy cleaning the cat’s litterbox.