Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Musings on a Snowy Day

cocoparisienne via Pixabay

 I’ve been pondering productivity lately, specifically, what productivity is anyway.

Is it completing everything on my to-do list? Accomplishing things that are somehow significant or important even if other things are left undone? Adhering to someone else's standards?

I think it's that last one that's been tripping me up. Having had the great good fortune of more than a month between semesters, I often find myself looking back on how I've spent my day, and worrying if others would see it as productive.

It took me a ridiculously long amount of time to decide that such a perspective is not only immaterial, but is also contributing to my own dissatisfaction. Viewing our own accomplishments through someone else's lens diminishes not only them, but us as well.

Regular readers know I’ve been on a mission to balance productivity and creativity for some time now, a pursuit that is practically the definition of swimming against the tide in a fast-paced society that values accomplishment. Creativity in its messiest, most elementary forms rarely looks anything like accomplishment but, it's an essential step toward the final products that make us feel productive (hmm...product is right there in the word...) and valued. 

"Valued." Another judgment-laden word. Why am I allowing myself to succumb to that? Why am I basing the value of my day on someone else's opinion of how I choose to spend my time?

Yet their opinions color my own. Still, this is silly because most of the time, no one is paying attention to me except me.

Seeds of these thoughts were tumbling over themselves as I got into the shower this morning and, as is often the case, a topic for this post began to take shape. 

But, when I got out of the shower, I discovered that the fine, almost invisible flakes of snow that had been busy taking the leaves from snow-kissed to snow-laden over the past 24 hours had turned to the big, fat flakes I find calming and fun to watch (from inside a warm, dry space). I immediately ran upstairs, threw on clothes, and ditched everything I’d been planning to do. 

Productive? Hardly. I left my bathrobe tossed haphazardly across the unmade bed unmade, determined to dash back downstairs before I missed the thing I have been craving since the snow began yesterday. Even then, by the time I to the sunroom, the fat flakes had begun transforming and, in less than fifteen minutes, they'd turned back to the same minuscule flakes I'd had to squint to see.

I almost missed them.

And, in the midst of it all, I realized that productivity and creativity are only two pieces of the puzzle. Restoration is another. 

It's the thing I've been doing when I fail to get up with the alarm that I set, determined not to sleep away too much of the morning. It's what I've been doing when I sit in my chair, reading a book instead of writing one or playing games on my iPad (to a point). It's what I've been doing when I've been "doing other stuff" while berating myself for not writing or painting the woodwork in the dining room or sorting the bookshelf or doing something else "useful."

It's watching snowflakes despite an unmade bed, an unfinished syllabus or an unposted blog. 

It's the thing my soul searches for. The thing that, when coupled with productivity and creativity, keeps life in balance and gives me the energy I need to pursue all the other "stuff." 

In the search for balance, restoration is the fulcrum between creativity and productivity, making both possible. It can exist on its own, or be found in those moments where we explore something new with no regard for the outcome or check the last thing off the list. Some find it in stillness, others in prayer, or perhaps even watching snow fall, soaking in the view at the top of a mountain, or jostling through the hubbub of a busy street.

We need it, yet we berate ourselves for seeking it, despite the fact that it's fuel for everything else. 

Without restoration, there's no creativity because we lack the energy to create, no product because productivity stalls. 

What restores you? And how can you invite more of it into your life?

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