Like most of my friends, I am on Pinterest a lot these days. I think the inspiration is addicting because you’re not just pinning an idea to a board, but you’re also pinning the idea of “You, Improved.” When you save something inspiring you’re imagining your life and yourself as something better: more organized, more stylized, more designed.
I recently read a post by a new writer at Hack Library School, Joanna June. She wrote about the idea of “the horizon” and how we tend to hope for a time in the future, on the horizon, when we’ll finally have time to sit down or get out and do everything on our to do list. She wrote something that, as I read it, felt like I wrote it, or had at least been thinking it for a long time now:
My issue is neither starting nor finishing right now. My problem is creating the head space to concentrate on anything longer than the next three minutes or think about that which is past today. … I’ve felt anxious and scattered in waves while trying to concentrate on my project and deal with whatever is most screaming for attention. Not ideal productivity conditions. [emphasis hers]
It’s very easy to say something about the hectic life we lead, and I could laugh to you about how I make lists about the list I need to make. But, really, what I’ve come to realize is it isn’t about realizing I’m busy now, it’s realizing I’m going to be busy for a very long time. I will always have the horizon, I will always hope for a time I can sit down to think, I will always pin pretty examples of good organization to virtual boards. And that, frankly, is a problem for many reasons — one being that I am finding myself much more often walking through my apartment, knowing what I wanted to find/write down/remember when I began at Point A and then forgetting entirely by the time I reach Point B.
I’m nearly constantly watching something, listening to a podcast, talking to someone, listening to music, reading, or playing a game. Is my brain just too full? Should I eat breakfast in silence and stillness, and not pick up a New Yorker? Oh, but then I will constantly feel behind on the times!
There are solutions for this, of course, and I’m not going to lay them out since I don’t feel qualified to. Elsie Larson over at A Beautiful Mess some tips for Prolific Living which are a good start. However, I feel happy that I’m solidly choosing a lifestyle of “prolific living.” I’ve realized that I can’t just sit around, I need to produce (not babies yet!!). I need to feel part of the community.
One of the things I grappled with, when I chose archiving and libraries for my future path, was that it didn’t seem as world-changing as going to work for a nonprofit in policy or to become an environmental law lawyer or to become a teacher in a low-income, under-resourced school. But it’s not true. We aren’t those things, but we don’t have to be; we are not only important venues and keepers of culture but my peers are caring folks who also want to help. That’s a good community to be in, and I’m glad I’ve chosen to be a prolific component of it.
I leave you with this thought: live intentionally, but don’t map it out.