- Scott Bowman
The best pebbles of the day...
Do you ever feel like a cliche? Sometimes I think Anna and I are just too cliche to live. She runs a healing practice teaching Reiki and Shamanism and I’m a transformational business coach (and former yoga teacher) and where do we live?
Where else could we live?
We drive a Prius. That’s kinda required in this area. You can substitute a Tesla if you like... or home solar panels and a composting toilet. But if you have an RV you have to have all three.
There’s a song by Vir McCoy (a both hilarious and gifted musician) called “The Man From Marin” - if you’re at all familiar with this area I strongly suggest you Google it. The production values are... well... at the ‘My friend made a demo!’ level. But the song is painfully accurate and funny. There’s a line in it:
“My girlfriend and I want all to see us, so we cruise Sir Francis Drake in my brand new Prius!”
(...followed by “I go to Good Earth to get my Kombucha. I talk to the checker about the Kama Sutra”)
But aside from being a source of great moral superiority and terrifying thrill rides of speed, the Prius has given us a really wonderful metaphor. It’s gas gauge (btw, did you know there’s an arrow on your gas gauge that indicates which side of the car the tank is on? Why didn’t they tell us that in Driver’s Ed? I’ve got to wait 30 years for that!? That’s valuable info!)... ahem, it’s gas gauge is digital and is made up of a series of blue dots that Anna affectionately calls ‘pebbles.’
Anna finds a way to affectionately refer to almost everything in her world. It is one of my favorite things about her. The most tedious and ordinary articles, the furniture of a human life, are in her world friends with nicknames and personalities. Her weekend is “The Sacred Day of Nothing” (This, by the way, is a truly brilliant practice I’ll have to expand on some day). Her students are ‘Muffins’. And sometimes the car needs pebbles.
“Be sure to put pebbles in Dragon Car!”
This quickly translated into a measurement: “I don’t think we’ve got the pebbles to get to Point Reyes...”
Which then translated into a more personal measurement: “I haven’t got the pebbles to go to Point Reyes today anyway.”
We now use pebbles to talk about the units of energy we need to get something done. And sometimes - you just don’t have the pebbles for it. Looking at that email that needs the horribly long response and explaining all the things and the this’s and that’s and... I just don’t have the pebbles for that right now.
It helps. You’ve only got so many pebbles.
This is useful when considering work/life balance. I was thinking about this the other day and wondering why we put the word ‘Work’ first. Isn’t that a real good indication of what’s going on there to begin with?
Many people seem to address this problem by trying to shove more ‘life’ into their day. Like force feeding a glutton Gluten-Free bread.
Our overworking brains are a lot like gluttons. And while most gluttons are happy to eat more than is good for them, they’re not so happy to eat what is ACTUALLY good for them, so our brains reject the gluten-free bread, or the yoga/contact improv/meditation/ecstatic dance classes and spit them out eventually saying they are more tired and more overwhelmed than before they tried to bring in ‘balance’ to begin with.
More doesn’t help
We know this anyway. We instinctively and intuitively know that doing more is not a good response to feeling overwhelmed, burned-out and tired. More isn’t the answer.
First is the answer.
You only have so many pebbles. And it turns out that some of your pebbles are better than others. In my day the first pebbles of my day - the first five hours - are the best. Those are the prime real estate of my energy - the River Front View of my life.
What do I put there?
Recently I’ve caught myself using those pebbles on low priority things, reactive things, other-people things. Not-my-duck (see previous post) things. And these are the best pebbles of my day! THAT is a life/work balance problem.
Balance isn’t about ‘more,’ it’s about what you do with the very best time you have. It’s about what comes first. If work comes first, you will never have a balanced life. That will probably strike you as either obvious or impossible.
Or it may strike you as undesirable that work should be anything BUT first - in which case, go you! It isn’t required or necessary, or even strictly speaking healthy to have a ‘balanced’ life.
But for many of us, we feel consumed by our work and not sufficiently fulfilled or answered by it. For many of us it feels like there is, or should be, more to our lives, there is more that is hungry in us that the passing days do not assuage.
If it seems impossible that life should come before work, you may be feeling some real distance from what gives you satisfaction in being alive. Work and accomplishment are satisfying, don’t get me wrong - but so is BEING. Just being.
Living, in the absence of everything else, is... awesome. And if you didn’t have this work, or all these things to do, you would (eventually) find something that you enjoy, just ‘cause you do.
So my question is, what are you doing with the best pebbles of your day? And what would it look like to spend one of those pebbles on you enjoying your life?
Maybe that’s a few quiet moments with coffee, a pastry and a book (...my morning!), maybe it’s a walk with your dog or your lover in the brisk evening air, maybe it’s a glass of wine on the porch at the gloaming time, as the yellow windows light the darkening dusk. Maybe you’d like to write, or learn to juggle, or paint, or talk with a friend, or play racquetball... or spend some time with your daughter or son.
What if you put YOU first? Just one thing, not a huge bunch of things. Just one thing, for you, first. What would it be?
It is your life after all. Don’t you think you should have some River Front real estate in it?