Monday, July 28, 2008

Choke

I had lunch with my friend Dan yesterday, mostly because he just returned from Colorado where he was officially awarded his Ph.D., and because we'd not had a chance to visit in nearly a month. It was hard to tear myself away, but it was a great opportunity to practice a behavior I've decided I need to work on: relaxation.

My European experience really affected me in ways it affects lots of Americans. In fact, I wrote for about two hours on the plane returning from Rome about my life and what it is, and what I want it to be. Without going into the gory details, I've realized that just being aware of my inability to relax isn't enough ... I need to take action on it. And with that, I've recognized that I need to take action on lots of other things too. There's a high degree of torture, I can tell you, when you live a life in your head but don't model it in your practices.

When I moved to Tuscaloosa two years ago, I swept a lot of unattended content under a rug (OK, really, into the spare closet of the media room). It's nothing wildly exotic - just a bunch of old paperwork and some other important documentation. My challenge has been twofold: reclaim much-needed space, and develop a better organizational system for maintenance of this information. Sifting through need and don't need was my objective for the weekend, and while I was keenly focused on accomplishing it yesterday, I stepped away for two hours and, as a result, had a fantastic lunch, then went to the bookstore where I purchased two books, at Dan's recommendation, by Jhumpa Lahiri.

I have decided to save my money and vacation time for my 40th birthday, when I hope to travel to India to work on an AIDS-related volunteer project. That hasn't been identified yet, of course, but through my network I've been given some great leads, and I'm really excited about it. I returned home and got my disheveled room to a better place, and was comfortable with the fact that while it wasn't finished, I'd made progress. Hey, Rome wasn't built in a day, was it? Sharing that plan with Dan over lunch opened a door for his recommendation of the Pulitzer-prize winning author and her collection of short stories. Score one for relaxation!

More important, I recognized that I'm very prone to begin reading a book and if it doesn't sting me like a hornet, not finishing it. God knows I've been struggling with Anne Rice's "The Feast of All Saints" for 14 years. With that said, I'd begun "Choke" by Chuck Palahniuk in the airport waiting to fly to Barcelona. I read about 2/3 of it on my vacation, and while I was struggling to complete it, I decided last night at 7:15 I would lie on the sofa and finish the last 100 pages. I'm glad I did. It read quickly, it was a good book, and I completed something! Yay ADHD me!

Rest assured I'm working on completing my European chronicles. I am enjoying the process and relishing in the realization that it doesn't have to be finished right here, right now, but that it does have to be finished.

Who knew one could learn so much by aging another year?

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