Wednesday, June 11, 2008

An Unquiet Mind

Day six of my sabbatical, and I keep waiting to get down to business and start enjoying myself. Sink into relaxation. Feel a sense of inner peace. But, instead my mind is whirling with: plot ideas for the book I'm NOT working on, self-ministrations as to how exactly I should be spending this time off, annoyance for not feeling more relaxed, a mental to-do list which I couldn't possibly accomplish in just one month, and a sense of foreboding about that day about 3 weeks from now when I either have to go back to my job or NOT. Today at one point I was literally standing in my living room frozen for two hours wondering if I should garden, write, clean out the closet or just give up and have a glass of wine.

As I continue to berate myself for my seeming inability to just relax and enjoy, I am increasingly mindful of the difficulty of quieting all my inner voices, each vying to tell me what to do next.

Is it really surprising that stillness is hard to come by? Most of us are constantly on the go between jobs, commutes, errands, families (or dogs), and countless other pressures in the course of a day. To do a "full stop" on that life for a month is like suddenly coming to a standstill on a New York street during rush hour. Your feet may stop moving, but the crowd will continue to abruptly jostle you along, and many people will give you "strong verbal feedback" to indicate how they feel about your decision to stop moving.

So, I'm going to accept the swirling thoughts for now and stop trying to get to a place that I'm not yet fully ready to inhabit. I have faith that I will find my stillness eventually.

Those same New York streets are always quiet at 6am on Sunday morning...


  1. That stillness is probably waiting for you.

    When I took time out to write a novel, I spent most of the days trying to do laundry or dishes or whatever, trying to "do" something. Just sitting around writing wasn't productive enough.

    One morning, I woke up and the stillness was there. It was like meeting a good friend I hadn't seen in a while: comfortable and enjoyable and incredible.

    Not that you asked for it, but my advice it to just try and be cool. Don't force it, but don't deny it.

    I hope it's going well.

  2. Paige, it is a quiet Saturday morning, my husband is reading on our condo balcony and our two daughters are well and living on their own.

    I miss my red wine drinking. My psychiatrist and my husband (who goes to psychotherapy with me, thank goodness) agree that I should be drinking non-alcoholic beer instead. I also miss my gardening since we no longer own a house and yards.

    I just found my way to your beautiful blog (have only read your June 11 post so far) by doing a search for "quieting the unquiet mind." I will ask that your future posts be e-mailed to me.

    I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in August 2005 at age 63.

    I love the way you are doing your blog and will look forward to what you say in forthcoming posts.