Seven mornings out of seven, I wake up pleading with myself to allow me to get more sleep. My second conscious thought every morning is, “I did not get enough sleep,” and I quickly review to see what time my last memory was, look at my phone to see what time it currently is, and then commence juggling my day’s schedule in my head to allow for another 15 minutes or another hour or another night of sleep.
I am not anyone’s employee, and have not been for over four years. So why am I pleading for more sleep? With whom? I could roll back over and rest until the promised arrival of the mythical Enough Sleep, a god or goddess who will declare me rested for all time and in no more need of sleep, and no one would notice my absence or care. I am no longer on anyone’s clock. I no longer need to call anyone to “take my shift.” I am retired/disabled.
After I have a little coffee, I quickly scan the news; within 10 minutes I am sure that I have once again slept too late, for too long, and I can not possibly get everything I had planned yesterday for today accomplished. Thus, my day starts out screwed, in two ways, every day. The eight-ball may be very quiet when it arrives every morning, but upon walking through my door, I am trapped behind it.
The hecticness of one’s life, the hecticity, is something we carry like a badge of honor. Rush hour, experienced twice a day, is the fiercest example of this: an entire city population (around here, entire county) comprised of people who think that they are running behind and are facing immediate unemployment if it weren’t for all the other slow drivers competing for their deserved two yards of macadam. And all those other slow drivers hate you, too, for the same reason of their own immediate unemployment.
Once one is convinced that there is no getting around the fact of imminent screwdom, it becomes something we almost brag about to each other. How many people greet you with a hearty and sometimes sarcastic, “Working hard?” “No, I’m getting coffee.” I held a job for a year in which my major occupation became “looking busy.” An observer would have thought I was a courier or constantly mailing documents to the home office. That observer would have been wrong.
We measure the quality of our day by the number of achievements we have. Number of documents published versus quality of work, or the number of times this week we beat personal commuting records to and from the office, or numbers of reps at the gym, or, worse, for those dieting, number of days without “cheating,” which represents even more harsh ways to harshly self-judge.
We live in a culture of Other Peoples’ Success and thus exist in a competition with others for more successes than them and yet better ones. This is because, as Brené Brown, a pop sociologist, points out, we live in a “culture of scarcity. We wake up in the morning and we say, ‘I didn’t get enough sleep.’ And we hit the pillow saying, ‘I didn’t get enough done.’ We’re never thin enough, extraordinary enough or good enough—until we decide that we are. The opposite of ‘scarcity’ is not ‘abundance.’ It’s ‘enough.’ I’m enough.”
Obviously, from the sketch at the top, the culture of scarcity is deeply programmed in me, even though I am no longer a part of any race to any place. The need for hecticity, which always contains within it the desire to escape from it, is deep in me.
I’m enough. Not “I’m good enough.” I’m enough. How hard that is to say, and to mean it to be about me, myself, and not you. It is even harder to embrace. And for every one of those days when I catch a glimpse of almost believing it and I briefly live a little more easy inside myself, make sure you are not in my way on line for coffee the next day. I’m working hard. I’m setting new records.
The WordPress Daily Prompt for October 24 asks, “We all seem to insist on how busy, busy, busy we constantly are. Let’s put things in perspective: tell us about the craziest, busiest, most hectic day you’ve had in the past decade.”
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