19:35. I’ve been up since around 8 am. I started the day with yoga, breakfast and catching up on some work at home then spent the afternoon doing Venice Biennale work till this evening. My brain is still buzzing with things that need doing. The Permaculture foundation website, the article for the Malta Water Association, posts for the Venice Biennale social media accounts, the last few streets from the Streets of Valletta updates to name just a few. It feels truly endless.
Somewhere in my mind there’s the idea that the more I try to cram into today, the less busy I will be tomorrow but it’s rarely actually like that. The reality is that more work seems to come out of the invisible conveyor belt in the sky to replace anything done so that the stream is consistent, never-ending, ever-present, there. At the end of the day I need to decide where to draw the line. When to say enough. At what point to stop.
I’m increasingly learning that the only way to keep work to a particular section of the day is to structure the rest with some degree of rigidity. Time to cook and eat, time to read, time to meet friends, family, time to write, time to dream up some mischief that makes me feel alive. Anything not given importance risks being compacted away into nothing with things like work or worse, mindless staring into my phone when I’m trying to work but far too tired to actually do anything productive.
Compact, limited packets of work are actually a much better option. The time limit keeps me on task, there’s less chance of losing my attention to other things and there’s an automatic focus on what feels most important rather than the feeling that since there’s still a lot of time left then I can afford to meander here and there and everywhere. Don’t get me wrong, meandering still happens and is a source of many unexpected yet incredibly useful, intriguing things but it’s a different kind to the mindless, aimless vague feeling that comes about when there’s no end in sight.
To limit my working hours though, I need to make sure I’m being paid enough to sustain myself with what I do. To have enough money coming in from the hours I work to cover my living expenses, my tax, National Insurance, work expenses, and some left over, you know, for things. Which also entails deciding what is enough money-wise. How much do I need? What is essential, important? What am I willing to compromise and what am I not?
In philosophical moments like these I really become frustrated at the models we humans have created for ourselves. We have the means and possibilities to live the easiest, most comfortable lives in the history of humanity. We’ve come up with solutions to so many of the headaches that our forefathers have struggled with. And yet we insist on being hamsters in the little wheels we have built for ourselves. We run inside the wheel to print money that goes towards making sure that our wheel has to keep on turning endlessly using our own little hamster-feet power. Why?
We have the wealth and knowledge to sort our problems and make life easy for everyone. Instead we spend most of our time playing expensive and lethal games of tug-of-war with each other on a million-and-one levels. While also drilling increasingly bigger holes into the floating platform we all stand on. Which is clearly rapidly sinking. In the name of what?
A pension? Healthcare? A deed saying we own a rectangular piece of land that was here long before the thought of humans even passed within the universe’s brain? Security? Freedom? The possibility to do the things we desire?
Guess what, everything that counts is all here already. We’re just far too busy running the wheel to notice.