There was an excerpt in my desktop calendar on the concept of ‘drift’ which resonated with me recently. The calendar is based on a book I bought in the US, in the UNCA bookshop, called “The Happiness Project”. I loved it when I started reading it, but on the trip it became increasingly difficult to hold the book and read one-handed.
Surprisingly for me, I still haven’t finished it. I don’t know why. I haven’t finished any new books…although I have reread a number of my favourites by Agatha Christie and Kerry Greenwood. I sink back into the familiar, letting it enfold me in the known, the safe, in a place where I know how the story ends. I am resisting the new, resisting starting new projects, unable to look forward and decide what to do next.
Most things feel difficult – I feel incompetent in my job a lot of the time, and at the same time I feel bored. I reorder and organise my notes and files and pieces of paper at home, but I’m unable to write my goals for the year beyond those relating to friends and family. I overthink things until fear cripples me.
This last fortnight or just a bit longer, I have had 3 colds. Or perhaps it was the same cold lingering and coming back stronger. This has meant initially a day off work, then two days, and last week it laid me low until around midday today. It wasn’t the ‘flu, it was just a persisent cold that wouldn’t leave. The doctor confirmed on Friday it was a cold, and I was out of there in 5 minutes flat with a prescription for antibiotics. God knows, as do I incidentally, that antibiotics do nothing for a cold. It’s a virus and needs to run its course. And the only thing I could do was rest, drink lots of water and eat chicken soup. I didn’t recover as quickly as I wanted. The cough lingered…I’d feel better and do something around the house, then need to rest. Sunday and Monday I got very frustrated but it clicked with me that I need to stop fretting and rest. So I did…and was still coughing this morning. It has finally stopped. I did a work task this afternoon…I have a list of what I need to do tomorrow (aside from what’s in my inbox) and for the rest of the week/month.
Stopping was good for me. Plenty of people told me to rest, and I know that some people were driven up the wall by my clear impatience with being unwell. But stopping made me think…and realise that I am drifting (I knew I’d get back to the topic). “Drift”, as Gretchen Rubin defines it in her book, “is the decision you make by not deciding, or by making a decision that unleashes consequences for which you don’t take responsibility. Drift feels small, but once unleashed, it’s a powerful, often almost unstoppable, force.” I think that’s what has happened with this job. I said yes, because it made some sort of sense to continue with the role. Job security, a tiny bit more money…now I just have to work out how to get rid of the sinking feeling everytime I go to work. To get past the feeling of constant pressure, of never getting on top of the workload. Of this job sucking the life out of me instead of giving me any sort of joy. I need to work out how to make it work in a way that doesn’t pull me under, while still deciding what I want to do next and how I get there. How I don’t know…but I am facing it, looking for new signs of direction.
One of the things I must do is look after myself – get enough sleep, eat properly, take my vitamins and give myself something to look forward to every day. Nourish myself so that I can continue to support others. Time then for the last bowl of chicken soup for dinner. And to think about stopping the drift. Writing helps, writing always helps, I don’t know why I always forget that…