I often try to do things in the right order. For as far back as I can remember, I have been thoroughly convinced that if I do things in the right sequence, they will be done most effectively. The least amount of time will be wasted transitioning between things or retracing steps, and the maximum accomplishment of tasks will result.
Sometimes it works really well. And sometimes this tendency is actually a clever disguise for procrastaccomplishment. I’m definitely not doing a hundred things other than the one thing I’m supposed to be doing right now... I’m maximizing efficiency! Other times it can be a sneaky screen hiding some unsettled part of me I’m not yet willing to look at. Like this week, when I finally realized the high volume of house chores I’ve been feverishly tending to is actually just a stand-in for a schedule.
I like to plan things. I am a planner. I also like order and structure. These parts of me usually go nicely hand-in hand and I tend to live a well-organized existence amidst the chaos of the world. However, the last few weeks that programming has malfunctioned and my day to day has felt topsy-turvy instead. Somewhere along the line I seem to have developed a reliance on the presence of at least one of those pillars in order to facilitate the other. I can plan based on some kind of worldly order or structure. I can create order and structure within a solid plan. But I forgot (or never knew) how to do both.
Planning anything throughout this pandemic has been extremely difficult. In the beginning, everything was unknown. We locked-down expecting to be right as rain in a couple weeks. Since then it feels like every time we get a lock on something we either open-up too quickly, or a new variant emerges, or something we thought was working actually does nothing at all. It's all very un-fixed and nebulous. And it doesn't seem like that's going to change any time soon.
In the Before Time, I had plenty of events and activities shaping my schedule. Even though I worked for myself and had a fair amount of control over my schedule, I still had meetings with clients and colleagues requiring me to leave the house. I attended and taught multiple martial arts classes each week at the dojo. I went dancing. I volunteered and showed-up for board meetings. I went to the movies or concerts or theater or lectures. There were so many things occurring at a particular time and place that I did not arrange. So I worked my calendar around those fixed points.
Covid has eroded most of those anchor points into puddles. The parts of my work that were not already remote shifted online. No more ritual of leaving the house for work. All public events pivoted to online events, most of which were recorded so if the original schedule was inconvenient you could tune in another time. The dojo and the gym closed. The dojo re-opened with beaucoup covid protocols, but the gym stayed online... until it closed completely a couple weeks ago.
I didn't realize until this week those zoom gym classes were the keystone of my calendar. Not only were they reliably scheduled by forces outside myself, they happened every weekday. Weekends always include more unstructured time, but the workweek is far more determinate. At least it was when I had something definitely happening at a specific and certain time I could arrange all other tasks around. And in its recent absence I have been floating from task to task, adrift in the sea of all my to-do's.
Knowing this is both reassuring and helpful. I am not (as I was beginning to suspect) simply no longer capable of getting my act together. There's a root cause. The dock sank and I have been trying to steady my ship with buoys instead of building a new dock. And now that I am aware of what's actually happening, I can do something about it.
So what am I going to do about it? How am I going to get back to something shaped like order? When can I get back to planning? I can't foresee all the details of the entire process, but one thing is for sure: I'm going to do it incrementally.
Very few changes happen all at once. The meteor that killed the dinosaurs was sudden. Covid lockdown was sudden. But the ultimate effects of even both those massive events were gradual and built, little by little, over time. The sudden event was ultimately only a catalyst for the gradual change that came about after the inciting incident. Even the Amazon rainforest was significantly shaped by thousands of years of human influence and interaction.
So I will start with one day and bring structure to that day. Then use that anchor point to structure the days around it. Or some other method I come up with after a check-in with myself about why I'm doing the things I'm doing in my life. I will let the small shifts grow into a bigger change.
Just like we need to do with the big adjustments we have to make in society and the world. I will push for the big changes needed to end poverty, eradicate racism, and provide health, safety, education, and autonomy to everyone everywhere. And I will gladly welcome all the small incremental changes along the way. As long as it's a step is in the right direction, then it's a step we should take.
I read several stories this week about revolutionary thinkers and societal reformers refusing to accept anything less than their total and complete vision. In the end, what they ended up with was: absolutely nothing. The example that frustrates me the most is the demise of universal basic income in the United States, which could have been a reality in the 1970s. Instead, it flopped because the reformers thought it didn't go far enough. What a missed opportunity.
We have to ask for total resolution. We must demand a complete and meaningful shift away from the problems plaguing the populous. And while we unrelentingly ask for the whole pie, we need to take each tiny slice when it's offered and gobble it up. We need to use those small snacks as fuel to continue advocating for the ultimate goal of equality for all of humanity. To build a better world we cannot be anti-incrementalism. We have to be anti-stagnation. Refusing a slice because we can't have the whole pie right away gets us nowhere.
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Jaydra is a human in-process, working to make the world a better place. Sharing thoughts, feelings, and observations about the human experience.