Monday, September 5, 2011

Conditional release

I'd love to start out by saying that I swear to the heavens above and hell below that I will strive henceforth to find balance in my life. But I'm not going to do that...not today anyway. I've been down that road many times before and it's a road paved with good intentions.

Rabbit at rest
It's the fifth of September, and already I'm wondering where the first week of the month has gone. I've spent the past nine days desperately trying to conquer a gigantic to-do list that, among other things, included finishing my novel, writing two articles, reading a book manuscript and a book chapter, finishing a short story and revising it and writing an arts grant. Now let's be fair--for your average person, almost any one or two items on that list would require an entire nine days, if not more. But the new fall semester begins on Wednesday and, after that, I don't get much time for writing. Sure, I dabble here and there if I can, but the effort to work on major literary projects usually grinds to a halt somewhere around the third week of the semester when the first papers need to be graded. With that, I've been composing a course outline, attending meetings, and reading various materials in perparation for the university semester. So, I guess what I'm saying is that: 1. I haven't found much time for blogging, obviously, and 2. I've given up hope of achieving any sort of real balance in my life.

Now that doesn't mean I don't just feel like chucking it all in and going for a long walk in the park. That's exactly what my wife and I did this morning. It was her idea, and I admit I was reluctant to take myself away from the computer, given there is so much to be done in the next 48 hours. I gave in to her madness--she actually suggested a walk in Bowring Park because she sensed that I needed it, and I won't say she was wrong. Ultimately, we did drive over there and spent a pleasant hour or so just strolling and taking in the relaxing sights and sounds of the unofficial last day of summer. Then we went for a more energetic strut around Mundy Pond, but that too was invigorating with the autumnal wind blowing through the thick, high grass, making that beautiful sifting noise that is like music to my urbanized ears. It's a sound that always relaxes me, always makes my yearn for the dog days of August growing up in my hometown when the only worry was about how to spend the last few days before school started. There would always be "one last adventure," as I used to call it. It usually entailed building a new tree fortress or camping out overnight in the woods, or going on a fishing trip of some kind. When I was really small, it would mean going blueberry picking with my parents and/or various members of the family. Back then, I was enthralled with every sight--every other car on the road, every bird that flew overhead, every dragonfly or butterfly that came near enough to nearly grasp in my hand. I thrilled to the babbling of a brook or the cry of a loon, or the sight of a huge bull moose expressing his way across a still pond in early fall.

I do need some balance in my life. Most of us do, I believe, but few of us seem to find it. Summer is a time for doing things, going places and much of the work gets laid aside. So when the autumn arrives, we dive back in--with some trepidation--and tell ourselves that the harder we work, the more we can achieve and the better life will be...and it's only until the next long weekend or vacation or maybe Christmas. The balance gets tipped in favour of labour.

Balance...I'm not ever sure what that means exactly. It's not on my list of things to do, so I haven't taken the time to figure it out. But, if I may, I'd say it has something to do with finding time for the things you love to do, along with also doing the things you feel you need to do. Of course, it would help if they were one and the same, but that's a rare condition. It's a wonderful thing to find time to "sit among the ducks," as I sometimes call it. To breathe properly and mindfully. To read a book for the pure enjoyment of it, rather than because you need to read it for work or school. To spend a couple of hours listening to good music.

But sometimes my life can have this feeling of someone just putting the pieces together, you know? Do this, this and this, and you'll be living a balanced life--as if there was some sort of Canada Food Guide for the soul that will make you feel like you're living a good life. But maybe it really is that simple. Mabye you can just fake it till you make it--do peaceful, fulfilling things until you actually become a peaceful, fulfilled person. Schedule the balance until you actually become balanced....even though "schedule" is one of my least favourite words.

I'm rambling, trying to figure it out, but the more I write, the more the clock is ticking. I realize I'm enjoying blogging just now--I usually do. I started out thinking I would just post some media interviews and that sort of thing, just to keep people informed about what I've been up to. I'll probably do that next.

For now, though, it's back to work. The novel is almost done. My to-do list has not been conquered, but it looks more manageable as I've slain a few dragons. But I'd prefer not to think of it in terms of slaying anything--something else I need to work on.



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