49: Turning it off

Not much has been happening lately. That makes me quite happy. Yes, happy. 

Dana and I have played a few board games that have been sitting unopened for a couple of years. Good times. 

I’ve barely had to leave the house during this heat wave. Bliss. 

I developed a three week schedule to help me balance chores, to-do’s, tasks, hobby, and leisure. It may seem masochistic from an outside perspective to subject myself to a “work routine;” however, I believe this is the solution to the problem I’ve discussed regarding the concerns I have for getting lost in a dark abyss of aimless thoughts and perceived purposelessness.

I feel a difference. Whether or not it will be a lasting difference remains to be seen, of course. But the weight of “should be doing” has been lifted. I’ve given myself a rotating schedule that provides both freedom and consistency such that I know when I can “turn it off” for the day… or how much to double up to make up for lazy days. And I’ve allowed for “days off.”

I don’t regard it as anything set in stone. It’s just a guideline – a self crafted illusion. The primary benefit is simply allowing myself the ability to “turn it off.” And that has already made a world of difference. 

It’s easy to “turn it off” at an hourly job. But, for me, at 19 years old I was managing a video arcade. Punching out didn’t mean I could completely “turn it off.” Phone calls from employees, having to stop in to make change, refill change machine hoppers with tokens, troubleshoot problems, cover shifts. It wasn’t demanding, but it did keep some level responsibility always on. 

For awhile, the security job didn’t have those demands. But, since I was going to school beyond full time with all the required field experience hours required to become a teacher, “turning it off” was a guilt-ridden luxury. 

And teaching? Hah! Figuring out how to “turn it off” was a survival skill. The professional expectation is that teachers are educators, mentors, social workers, innovators, engaging entertainers, experts in subject matter, masters of individualizing instruction for a hundred students, caregivers, role models, coaches, evaluators, reflecters, tweakers, communicators, protectors,  collaborators, chaperones, motivators… martyrs. Teachers could spend every minute of every hour every day of the week and still be made to feel they weren’t doing enough. 

It’s that last sentence that is the big problem that causes burn-out. 

Nonetheless, except for those few years of work/school/field experience-student teaching there was always a point of the day I could “turn it off.” At the arcade, for the most part, if I wasn’t there, it was “off.” Anytime the phone rang, though, there was good chance I’d be booting up again. During the security/school years, the light at the end of the tunnel was worth the two or three years that I didn’t even think about turning it off. In fact, that was the time of my hyper-social anomaly and spending time enthralled with the Renaissance Faire. 

Eventually I consciously developed the concept and ability to “turn it off” when teaching: do work at work; work at home only when it was something I considered fun (or the beginning weeks of the school year). It took a few years to get to that point, but it came. 

Since May 9th, 2014, “turning it off” just wasn’t an option. If it was “off” it was because of a metaphorical circuit breaker blowing or power outage. Even then, the “off” state was just about doing what needed to be done in order to get things back up and running again. 

So, this schedule I’ve developed for myself isn’t so much about a plan to get things accomplished (although that is ultimately an outcome). It’s about giving myself some room to live again. To be inspired. To lighten up. To stop merely taking breaks. To enjoy. 

An odd effect of the schedule is that I’ve started to sleep according to normal people hours. I’m curious how long that will last. 

So far, the one thing on the schedule I haven’t been able to scratch off is “physical activity.” I gotta get there. My belly is starting to require it’s own bedroom. 



Author: cinkyblog

I am me.