Thursday, April 03, 2008

In Overthink Overdrive

I have simply got to learn how to live in the moment and cease my constant analysis of every move I make and how it may or may not adversely affect my future.

For weeks now, I've been fretting and obsessing over various work-related crap. For example, I probably spent a couple of weeks--off and on--mulling over how to gracefully exit a client relationship without burning bridges and jeopardizing the payment of outstanding invoices. Yesterday, I spent way way way way way too much time crafting an e-mail excusing myself from three days of horrendous-sounding meetings in California, because A) it would be really stressful to have to be in schmooze mode for three days straight with a roomful of middle-aged men, most of whom I've never met and will never meet again and B) I might be working full-time somewhere else by then and C) it just sounds like pure unmitigated hell.

You see what I'm talking about--the obsessing and overthinking of these things that most people probably just, well, do. All the time. I don't know if it's because I'm self-employed and have a much greater degree of control over how I spend my time or what. But I do know that I've been feeling incredibly unsettled and nervous about work lately, mostly because there hasn't been quite enough of it, but also because I'm sort of maybe kind of moving in a new direction, but I'm not sure I want to.

This new direction is an actual full-time, albeit temporary, job that would require me to spend "significant time" on site in an office that is not in my home--something I haven't done in 11 years. I have all sorts of reservations about that. This job could very well swallow my summer whole. I'd probably have to turn down work from valued longstanding clients--always risky. The work itself is very much an unknown quantity and could end up being a total nightmare in so many respects. But it could also offer an opportunity for me to add some new high-demand skills to my portfolio that could stand me in good stead in years to come.

But why am I worrying about all this now? Why don't I just forget about it all until Monday when I have an interview with these folks and I can ask them some questions, get some answers, and make an informed decision about whether I want to continue to pursue this? Isn't that what most people would do?

I've been this way my whole friggin' life--always trying to squint into the future and read people's minds and suss out ulterior motives/motivations. It's completely exhausting and I don't even want to think about how much time (years?) has been devoted to this kind of fruitless speculation.

It has simply got to stop. That is, I've simply got to stop myself from doing this to myself. I was thinking about trying to break this damaging habit this morning when the phone rang. The caller ID display showed that it was my doctor's office. Before I even answered the phone, I started off on that familiar path. Why are they calling? They only call if there's a problem. I'll bet it's something to do with the mammogram I had on Monday and that BB-sized "very cystlike" lump that my doctor detected during her (very thorough--ouch) examination of my breasts. The thing that she told me "not to lose sleep over."

Yeah, all of that before I picked up the phone. Yes. They do want me to come back for another mammogram, like "how about tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM?" They're being cautious. Fine. What a perfect opportunity for me to not start recalling that the last time I had to go back in for another mammogram because of some "anomalous nodule" (or something like that) I got a letter not a phone call. Now what could that mean that this time they called me on the phone? Only that it's urgent, urgent, urgent!!!!! Right? Or maybe they just changed their procedure. Anyway, I will present myself there at 9:00 sharp tomorrow morning. They'll take some more images and then I should just put it out of my mind until I hear back from my doctor next week.

B persuaded me that the best possible thing for me to do was to take the rest of the day off and go out for a hike with him to Angel's Rest in the Columbia River Gorge. A nice little workout--five miles and 1,500 feet of elevation gain, which makes it a pretty steady climb. Despite some haze, it was a glorious hike. The foothills in Washington had lots of snow on them and there was even a bit of snow lingering up at the top of the cliff. Lovely and peaceful, except for the guy who decided he needed to pull out his cell phone on top of the mountain and have an inane conversation. I wanted to snatch it out of his hand and hurl it over the cliff. B told me I needed to raise my threshold and just tune him out.

He was right. He was right about something else, too. The hike was exactly--exactly--what I needed today to help me get some perspective and give me some context for what it means to live in the moment and to reflect on just how lucky I am to be able to rearrange my schedule to play half a day of hooky when I need it and to live in a place where I can do that.



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