I've spent most of the past two days fretting. Tying myself in knots and tangles in the most unproductive way, I have, quite frankly, been feeling miserable. Miserable as in trapped - for no apparent reason. Nothing has dramatically changed from a week ago when I was quite happy and pleasantly productive, so I could not determine what exactly was causing my malaise. Yes, here in the north woods, it is still dark at 7:30 a.m. and yes, it has been overcast and gray for days now, but that just didn't seem like enough to cause me, a generally optimistic and upbeat soul, to wallow so deeply in my pit of seemingly self created despair.
Today, I got curious. I started to look at this misery from an objective viewpoint and after turning it this way and that to see all sides of it, I figured it out. No deadlines. The difference between last week - happy - and this week - miserable - is the absence of deadlines. I have no meetings to prepare for, no emails of any pressing importance to draft, no birthday cards to artistically create, no nothing. Of course, I have lots that I could be doing to meet future deadlines: there are paper mache bowl orders to fill before Christmas, two birthdays in November, and handouts to edit for a series of workshops I am presenting in the Spring, but none of them are demanding my immediate attention.
This used to happen to me as an attorney. I would finish a brief and wander around my office for three days checking email and feeling like a complete fraud because I felt incapacitated to accomplish even the simplest of tasks. I always attributed this post-project time period to mental exhaustion, but now I am seeing it in a whole new light. Deadlines. It turns out that those pesky time sensitive proverbial "lines in the sand" that I have dreaded my entire life are actually a necessary boundary that allows my left brain to focus on an identifiable, concrete goal. Left untethered by such a boundary, my thinking, analytical left brain quite literally turns on itself in sheer boredom like a border collie without a job. Simply fascinating.
I am looking forward to testing this new hypothesis in the coming week and, fingers crossed,returning to my cheerful, productive self.