Just when I thought I’d simplified enough. I was so wrong.
It’s funny how quickly the complications of life creep back in. There’s the never ending to-do lists, the shopping, the cooking, the cleaning, the personal goals, the emotional strains, the creative targets, the work pressures, the wishlists (oh the wishlists!), the relationship maintenance, the motherhood pressures, the pile of books to read, the blogs to follow, the fashion, the fads and of course, that all important time for yourself. All of these things will no doubt feel cyclical (or never ending) to most people – it’s no wonder that life feels exasperating sometimes. I know it does to me.
I felt like there must be a better way to manage all of these life issues (first world ones no doubt), but issues all the same. I thought I’d simplified as much as I could. But modern life still doesn’t feel like a simple thing.
Then I discovered the concept of deciphering my priority.
I read a brilliant article on Kinfolk online. An interview with Greg McKeown, author of ‘essentialism, the disciplined pursuit of less’ (which I can’t wait to get my hands on). He said lots of interesting things (you can read the article here), but what resonated with me the most was the the language history of the word priority. “It came into the English language in the 1400s, and it was singular, because that’s what it means! It means the first thing, the prior thing, the most important thing. Then ostensibly it stayed singular for the next 500 years, and only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term to priorities. What!? What does this word mean now? Can we really have a dozen first most important things? You need to take on whatever that priority is and do it. If you try to do 24 different things simultaneously and treat them all as equally important, you won’t get any of them done. And so in that little language change, we can see a lot of how this madness has taken over. It’s changing the way we think. It’s warped reality.” [quote from Greg McKeown]
Of course I feel that I have several (or more) priorities going on at once. But when I stopped to think it over, the idea of a priority as a singular construct really welded with my ideals of mindfulness and living presently. If you truly are living in the moment, you really could only deal with one task, or priority, at one time.
So instead of constantly trying to regroup my priorities, put them into categories and orders of importance or commit them to limited time frames, delete all my to-do lists (they make me so stressed out!), before rewriting them (because I feel disorganised)(and that makes me feel so stressed out!) …. I’ve been trying to take things one step at a time. I’ve been asking myself; “what’s my priority right NOW?” Sometimes it’s washing up, sometimes it’s silence. Sometimes it’s getting the children to sleep, sometimes it’s phoning a friend in need. Sometimes it’s weeding the garden beds, sometimes it’s stretching my achey back. But the realisation that really you can only deal with one thing at one time, has been quite profoundly calming for me and my busy mind.
Sometimes things get done. Sometimes they don’t. More often than not my priority is not myself. But there is always space to find a little time for me. And I’m happy that that priority does get met from time to time. I could list a hundred things that are important to me, but right now, in this moment, my priority is to finish writing this blog.
What’s your priority in this moment?