Last week I fielded some interview questions, one of which was “What are you working on now?”
That question threw me. Because it depended upon whether now meant today, this week, this month, this year, and whether working meant actively focusing on or keeping work in mind while looking for new insights and inspirations. Right now, even more than usual, so many projects are rambling through my mind, I thought, hmm, maybe I’m too scattered.
That thought prompted me to recall something I had recently read, an article about Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. The book is apparently a treatise on a sort of minimalism. I haven’t read it yet, but I believe I will, as the article indicates that its theme recommends we should wage a battle against being scattered; we should, McKeown maintains, hold onto the stuff and occupations that matter greatly to us now, that we are currently passionate about, and let go what we don’t need or really, really, really want.
Okay, that sounds like a worthy plan. But here’s the rub, from my perspective. I am way overloaded because all the occupations that keep me overloaded are ones that I’m either passionate about or feel called to do.
Called by whom? you may ask. Good question, which I’m asking too. Maybe I can get some clues by reading that book.
Meanwhile, I answered the interview question What are you working on now? in the simplest way, by defining now as today. Most of that day, I had been recording and editing a podcast of my book Writing and the Spirit, which is all about living in such a way as to receive and respond to inspiration.
As I answered the interview question, an inspiration came: Here it is:
I should take my own advice, specifically the following, from Writing and the Spirit:
“One of my bad habits is assessing the value of each day as it passes by what tasks I’ve accomplished. Someday I may kick the habit entirely. For now, though, I’m going to alter it, on account of a realization.
“I realized that the tasks don’t matter so much as the good ideas that come.
“When we analyze stories, we’re wise to consider the climax as the turning point; not as an action but as the thought or decision that propels the character toward the actions that determine her fate.
“Likewise, no valuable accomplishment will happen unless a good idea sets it into motion.
“Now, a good idea isn’t worth much unless it’s somehow acted upon. Lots of folks are flooded with good ideas and intentions to bring the ideas to life but never find the motivation to proceed.
“But for those of us obsessed with carrying out what good ideas we’re given, if we don’t accomplish a single task during a given day, so what? The tasks will get done by and by.”
Or, if they don’t, maybe we’re learning to give up being quite so obsessed.
Here’s how I mean to live from now on, which of course doesn’t mean I will, only that I intend to (and we know what road is paved with good intentions):
I mean to do some writing work each day, say a couple hours, and take care of my homemaking and parenting chores as well as an absent-minded fellow can be expected to do. The remainder of my hours, I will devote to whatever is most likely to deliver inspiration.
Should you wonder what specifically I mean by that last sentence, here’s a wonderful guidebook.