If I had a blog, today I would write about the challenges of putting bliss before obligation.
It is happening already. Just days into my 90-Day Photo Project and I find myself squeezing in my daily photo shoot so I can get on with the items on my perpetual “to do” list. This morning, I was hurrying up the stairs after morning chores when the radiant glow of hickory leaves caught my attention. The tree, growing along the lane, was perfectly framed by one of the windows in the Great Room; a living portrait of autumn’s grandest days. My arms were full of a hodge-podge of mail, books, my tablet, not to mention the cup of coffee I had clutched in my “free” hand. My camera,of course, was downstairs on the kitchen counter. For a moment, the thought of setting my burdens down and retracing my steps just to get one photograph seemed overwhelming. I was tempted to forge on and come back for the picture later in the day, but then I caught myself uttering the catch-phrase I use all too often: “Just one more thing, then I can do what I want.”
On the surface, it seems quite benign to delay gratification for just a few more minutes in an effort to get more “productive” things done, but this is an insidious downward spiral from which there is no escape. Once I’ve done that “one more thing,” another arises, then another and another, until the day is gone and my time for bliss has been pushed back another day, another week, another month.
One of the things I like about my 90-day project is the way it moves my bliss from an option to an imperative. If I am true to my goal of taking one really good photograph each day, then publishing it with a meaningful blog, I can’t delay this gratification. The Ego can’t push it back indefinitely by leaving a trail of minutiae with which I must deal before I spend time doing what I enjoy. There is comfort in knowing I have a solid resource with which to fend off the Ego, but there is also a bit of tension when I have to make choices about what to cut from my day to make room for my bliss. This is unfamiliar territory and I worry what will happen when “want to” and “need to” collide.
Sitting here on the patio this afternoon, listening to the last of the migrating hummingbirds chattering at the feeders, I wonder if I have my priorities backwards. What if I changed my my work ethic, to allow soul-nurturing work to take precedence over more practical tasks? While bills have to be paid and groceries purchased, perhaps I could squeeze those in after I’ve enjoyed a day full of photography and writing. There is some precedence for this line of thought, penned by Henry David Thoreau in 1837: “The order of things should be somewhat reversed; the seventh day should be man’s day of toil and the other six his Sabbath of the affections and the soul – in which to range this widespread garden and drink in the soft influences and sublime revelations of nature.”
I will use the rest of my Project to experiment with this new way of life; to see what happens if I put the needs of my soul before those of the world. I don’t know what I will find, but I have hope I will gain freedom from the tyranny of “One more thing.” More reports to follow….