Thursday, June 3, 2010
WORK, WORK, WORK, bike, WORK, WORK, WORK, bike
Ah ... it's time once again to discuss balance. Balance is one of those essential skills that we, as people who ride bikes, get to experience in both physical and mental planes. Although it's easy to grasp the concept of balance while riding, it's often NOT so easy to get a grip on when it comes to maintaining the equilibrium of work, family, AND riding.
This year is both a very welcome and frustrating time for me in terms of work. Since last year was so horrible in the financial world, work was also less plentiful. This year, however, it seems work is mysteriously MORE than plentiful. Of course, in my field of Multimedia Production and Technical Writing, when clients call, they need something NOW. They're not "considering" a new project, or "planning" a new educational or training tool ... no, they've already decided they need it ... and they need it YESTERDAY. I'm generally happy to help and create whatever is needed ... but at the moment, the transformation to Summer (yes, there is an actual transformation in Southern California ... temperatures climb from the 60's to the 80's) is calling me for longer rides and relaxation in the sun. Not just that, but I have multiple projects that I'm already frantically trying to complete. And in my line of work (see above explanation), if one says "no" to a client request, the client looks elsewhere for work, and that isn't always a good thing. In short, the work is now piling up, and I am feeling quite buried ... to the point that I sometimes feel that the selfish pleasure of heading out for a ride is time that could be spent working on client projects. Not a good feeling ... I'm sure many of you have been there many times.
This scenario is exactly the place where balance becomes imbalance ... where yin has no yan (or is it "yang"?) ... where the scale is too far tipped in one direction ... and where Sir LanceI'mNot becomes Sir LeaveMeAloneI'mBusyAndAngry. It is always a quandry for me. Be busy and be happy to be busy ... be glad to be making a plentiful income this year ... but feel unfulfilled and unhealthy because all of my time is eaten up with the very things I'm supposed to be happy and grateful for, leaving little or none for what makes my body feel good and clears my mind (riding) ... and begin to not enjoy what I do for a living. A slippery slope, indeed.
Today, I have come to an agreement with the three conflicting forces within my being ... the one who wants to be successful and productive, the one who wants to be with and take care of my family and dogs, and the one who needs to be a part of the natural world while riding a bike. It happened after I got up and made our morning coffee ... after I took the dogs for their morning walk ... after I made breakfast (the ultra-secret-high-efficiency-blended-breakfast-drink-of-champions) for the other over-active worker in the house ... after making this same person her lunch (because she won't otherwise eat during the long day) ... after showering and shaving and getting dressed for a client appointment ... after driving for an hour to meet with my client ... after the three-hour appointment ... after the hour-long drive back home (can you believe I had to sit in a CAR for TWO HOURS?) ... and after making my list of "to-do"items for the remainder of the day, which includes finalizing a preview clip for a recently finished client DVD, downloading files for a client graphic design job, dinner and another walk for the dogs, making dinner for me and the other over-active worker in the house, washing the dishes, etc. Notice there wasn't a bike ride anywhere in that long list? That's what finally made me sit back in my chair and say ... "Hey!! Something's wrong here!"
I realized that there is no balance in my non-schedule. As the work has piled up, my time for riding has virtually disappeared over the past couple of weeks ... and though I've viewed it as a necessary personal sacrifice in order to keep everything else in line, the result is that it leaves me feeling just plain irritable. So I have made an agreement with my riding and non-riding selves that I must ... MUST ... allow a window of time each day for a bike ride. No matter what else my day holds, it will also hold time for a ride ... and I won't allow myself to feel that I'm neglecting other "more important" things. Riding makes me feel good, clears my head, lets me see things in a different way, and actually puts me in a better frame of consciousness for doing better work. I know that ... and therefore, I must follow what I know. An hour of riding ... even 30 minutes ... is ESSENTIAL to both my physical and mental well-being. Without it, I am unconnected to the world around me and bogged down in a list of tasks that become heavy to my soul. I don't want to resent the work I'm grateful for, just because I allow it to keep me from riding ... that's MY fault, not the job's. And so I will give equal weight to both, while not allowing either to affect my family life.
How will I make it happen? Not so sure about the mechanics of it all ... but I do know that there IS a place in each day, no matter how crazy, where I can hop on a bike and go for a ride. It might be in the early morning, before coffee, dogs, and so on ... it might be in the middle of the day, while a project is rendering ... it might be at the end of the day ... but there is always time. My plan is to have the bikes ready to roll ... so all I have to do is get on and go. That means wiping the chain down and checking tire pressure AFTER the ride ... not before the next one ... and setting out some clothes before bed that I can easily throw on and head out the door. It also means perhaps doing a little planning for tomorrow to see where I have the greatest opportunity for a block of time. I've never been very good at planning, but if it means I'll get to ride more, I'll give it a shot!
So there you have it ... my rant for today and plan for tomorrow! Anyone care to share some wisdom on the subject?