Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Left Brain: "Just Tell Me What To Do, Please!"

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.


  1. Love it! How about if you let your muse and right brain out to play? bet you could come up with some awesomely wildly creative bowls....or stories or muffins! xxoo Robin

  2. hmm... deadlines keep you safe- because you know the rules of what you need to be spending your time on. without deadlines, there are no rules, no safety- just your own freedom & preferences which may feel unsafe... may be even feels like a trap... it's just a matter of time till you do the wrong thing... which is nonsense. but it sounds like a belief nonetheless. beliefs are subject to change if we want. they serve the purpose of keeping safety, but now this belief is just getting in your way. I say, toss it. write it down- every facet of that belief on a blank sheet of paper- every thing it does for you & every thing it encompasses, then crumple it, burn it & toss it out. and replace it with something else more real and true for you now. I love hearing about the melancholys! they are always an indicator that some old belief or program is up and is just not working any more. yay for you!

  3. Hmmm... perhaps that's the reason why this long four day weekend seemed to weigh down on me. Considering that four-day weekends are so rare, I should have loved every moment. Yet, after the bouts of cooking and cleaning before and after Thanksgiving were over, I actually felt the exact same emptiness that you've so aptly described. Thank you, Esther, for putting a name to this emptiness. I felt I was going a little mad, not enjoying the free time when I had it!