Mulling it over

I sat down to lunch the other day, at home, in my flat, on my own. And I automatically reached for a book. It seems that it’s not enough for me to spend time eating – I need to multitask and get some reading in as well. That started me thinking. Back in the days when my world included television, it also included knitting needles. Back when I was gymming it, I was also listening to audio books. When I was driving long distances in Alaska, I was also practising public speaking and recitations. But until the other day, I’d never really realised how programmed I am to maximise my time.

I like to walk – I could walk around the city all day, if I have an errand to run, someone to meet, places to see… but I rarely wander aimlessly any more. I need to have a destination. This surprises me as my life plan is to live my life without planning. I used to think that I’m in Budapest doing what I do as a result of a whim. But now I wonder.

I had a frightening experience in Malta last summer – I was there working and decided to take one day off – a Saturday. No computer, no Internet, no phone. Just me and my book and the water. There was a time in my life when I could do this for 14 days non-stop without once feeling restless or anxious. But I couldn’t even manage two hours. I couldn’t relax – the feeling that I should be doing something constructive robbed me of the pleasure I would usually get from reading. I couldn’t get comfortable on the sun lounge – I had forgotten how to relax.

So far, although we’re just 24 days into it, 2012 is proving itself as a year of transformational change for some people I know – and I have a feeling that I’ll be joining their ranks in the not too distant future. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I know, deep down, that this rate of activity and multitasking is not sustainable. There is more to life. I need to somehow recapture that sense of achievement I used to get from doing one thing at a time and doing it well. I need to learn how to switch off.

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9 Responses

  1. I must say Ms Stolenchild, as i read your blogs or should i say your memoirs, as that is what they are starting to sound like, I say to myself ‘oh yes i feel that, oh yes i remember that’, and today reading your new blog I say ‘this is what maturity is about’ it’s about appreciating time, it’s about sitting back at the end of the day and actually remembering what you did this day, and that you can hand on heart say to yourself – today i lived it to the fullest, i am so blessed to have this day to do what i wanted to do. Sustainable – hmmmmm living your life achieving experiences and achieving goals, yes that is sustainable – beating your head against a wall, and you think you enjoy doing it until you ask why – that is completely a waste of a life.
    There is a poem by W.H. Davies ‘Leisure’ – have a read and tell me if it triggers off what you are actually thinking and feeling ………

    1. Ah yes, indeed. Much and all as I detest the word ‘maturity’, I get your point Sylvana. And I know that Davies poem – A poor life this if, full of care,
      We have no time to stand and stare. My confusion lies though, in the meaning of ‘fullest’: does it mean that I have to cram in as much as possible and get the most out of each and every day? And if so, don’t I run the risk of getting caught in a ratrace, with no time to stand and stare? What I’m questioning is that conditioning – that feeling that we’re on call 24/7 and constantly plugged in to phones, iPads, laptops. I’m trying instead to focus on being ‘blessed to have this day to do what I want to do’. A change in mindset definitely required.

  2. I remember reading about Julius Caesar that he could read, write, and make political speeches all at once . . . and look where it got him. The danger in doing (or trying to do) two things at once is that you are liable to do neither to your fullest ability, so cultivate concentration – even concentration on occasionally doing nothing. Don’t say ‘multi-tasking’, say ‘divided attention’.

    1. If we could have all the letters of Ceaser. He was also master letter writer and his compositions became classics. Thornton Wilder’s Ceaser book consisting just of letters is a must read.

  3. I came across this peice which seemed relevent to your discussion –

    We have bigger house but smaller families;
    more conveniences but less time;
    We have more degrees but less sense;
    more knowledge but less judgement;
    more experts but more problems;
    more medicines but less healthiness;
    We’ve been all the way to the moon and back,
    but have trouble crossing the road to meet the new neighbour.
    We build moore computers to hold more
    information to produce more copies than ever,
    but have less communication;
    we have become long on quantity,
    but short on quality.
    These are times of fast foods
    but slow digestion;
    Tall man but short character,
    Steep profits but shallow relationships.
    It’s a time when there is much in the window,
    but nothing in the room.

  4. Addiction that’s the name when somebody is slave to something be it a substance, an object, a being and so on. Research proved that multitasking in general is not beneficial: it rather takes then gives in efficiency, accuracy, quality. Individuals who really benefit from multitasking are few. Napoleon comes to my mind as a prodigy multitasker.
    People develop and loose skills over time. And relaxing is a skill which you have to practice. Here comes in Pavlov and his dogs. One can learn how to condition oneself badly or well .
    What book was it? Maybe there lies the problem. Not enough seducing…

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