A River of Possibilities

I have a stack of books by all of my reading chairs, a large collection of Podcasts that resonate with me in my Spotify App, and a collection of amazing writers who regularly drop into my email inbox. It can be overwhelming to try to read/listen to them all.

Then Oliver Burkeman dropped me a missive that had links to other pieces he had written and I found the answer: let the stacks be a river instead of a bucket. What a radical idea!

I have been dealing with buckets for my whole life. To do lists, self improvement programs, creative ideas. I really thought that success meant emptying those buckets. But now I’m getting a glimmer of hope. Maybe random sampling from the river will invite a more leisurely pace…a more realistic view.

As I chewed on this new idea, what followed was a realization that perhaps this could be an analogy for life. No bucket list. No frenzy toward accomplishment. Just a steady immersion. Or doing nothing at all.

Whoa! Now that is a really radical idea for a Human Doing like me.

So I tried it on. I imagined coming to each day with an open mind. Instead of reviewing my lists, I asked my heart to lead the way. At first, there was silence. Then all sorts of nasty comments from my inner task master… you know the ones. But I didn’t give in. I sat some more. And little by little, I heard my longings and listened.

The process, like most change, has been messy. Some days I get it and some days I resort to the old familiar way. It gets things done. And when it comes to work, there is still a bucket that needs to be emptied. But not in a frenzy.

I called on my new knowledge from Cal Newport and created focus times for work. Oliver Burkeman agrees. I have been amazed at how much I can accomplish when I set limits. Two hours gives me time to really dig in and then take a break, reassess and begin again. The work bucket can be transformed by learning what is possible in that focus time. And when focus is over, back to the river.

Speaking of which, what if the river was actually a spring…always renewing itself, always available for dipping into? Imagine the possibilities.

6 Thoughts

  1. I really enjoyed this point of view. It fits in nicely with the philosophy we’ve adopted around here, “That’s good enough!” Knowing that a particular project or task doesn’t have to be “perfect”, keeps obsessions down and frees up time to move along the river.

    1. Love what you’re saying here Carol! We also like to use “that’s enough” all by itself to be a reminder that we don’t have to empty the bucket all at once ( we are prone to over doing…)

  2. This is such a refreshing way to think about the “doing” I have found the two-hour method works for me. I’ve needed to take some time lately to do nothing to let the shoulder pain subside. That is so hard for me. I sit and look at the lists, there must be something I can accomplish that doesn’t require shoulders.

    I delivered Charlie Footh’s float plane pontoon covers today. What a big sigh of relief. I am ready to say a definite No to any more big projects.

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