S0. MUCH. FUN.
Last week, I went to my first "Improv 101" class at the DSI Comedy Theater in Chapel Hill, NC. I've suspected I'm funny for quite a long time, and I was finally ready to see if I was right. I was so excited that I accidentally showed up an hour early.
But I'm not going to write that blog post. Because I DON'T WANT TO THINK ABOUT ALL THAT STUFF. I JUST WANT TO RELAX AND HAVE FUN. (God, please. I exhaust myself sometimes.)
All I'm going to do here is write about this one thing we did in class.
We started off by introducing ourselves. Besides the usual stuff -- what's your name, where you're from, and "what you do when you're not pushing at the edges of your comfort zone with a group of strangers," the instructor asked us to share our spirit animal*. Except in this case, we had to pick a made up one. Like, we could combine the traits of two different animals, or give an animal magical properties.
By the time it was my turn, I'd made my decision.
My Spirit animal is an Octopus.
But that's not all.
What could possibly be more exciting for the busy ADD lady of the world than a smart, intuitive creature with the multi-tasking potential of eight limbs?
As I explained in my first dispatch from the land of my super-shiny-brain, living with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), my brain generates lots of truly excellent ideas -- fast. But if ADD renders me the Superman of brainstorming sessions, it can also work like kryptonite and drain me of my powers.
Also, I'd ask the octopus for lots and lots of shoulder and neck massages. Like, all the time.
OK. I HAVE TO TELL YOU JUST THIS ONE THING:
Kind of Lame, I know.
I'm not sure if my longing for octopod task management is just an ADD thing. I know plenty of people who could use an extra set of hands, or four extra sets of hands. (For those of you with children too young to drive: the carpool possibilities of the detached limbs occurred to me immediately.)
Over the years, I've gotten a lot better about attempting to execute a more reasonable number of ideas. I've acquired a decent set of organizational skills, and found tools that suit my particular way of engaging with the world. And I've learned how great it is to collaborate, particularly with people who bring complementary skill sets to our work. I'm confident about my abilities and don't undervalue or apologize for my work.
But lately, I've been feeling frustrated and sad. I've developed relationships with people I like and value that have opened up opportunities for me to work on projects that matter to me. And sometimes, I'm able to move forward effectively. But often, it takes so much more effort than I'd like, or that I can always sustain.
I wake up with a good sense of what needs to be accomplished to stay on track. I get out of bed. Get going. But most days, it feels like a fearsome, buzzing cloud of doom -- made up of wrong choices and potential failures -- joins me somewhere around the end of breakfast.
This cloud doesn't announce itself dramatically. It just shows up and settles in. It's just there: tinnitus of the to-do list.
I've tried fighting it: reconfiguring schedules and lists and where I work and how often I take breaks. Some things help, sure. But it the cloud also makes me angry. It doesn't make sense that this cloud exists. It feels like it belongs to a much earlier time in my life, when my struggles with depression warranted this kind of gloomy, anxious company. But depressions not the issue. Maybe it's some kind of depression hangover.
The other day, my therapist observed that I speed up -- a lot -- when I'm trying to solve some deadline quandary. That she starts to speed up, trying to help. We both surmised that the speeding up doesn't make things better.
Which makes me think that my multi-tasking octopus may not be the solution. That doing more things, faster, is not the solution. Which is annoying. Because more, faster, is one of those ideas where trying harder is the fix, and I know how to try hard. It's very important to me that people know I'm trying very hard.
But I'm at the point where I'm convinced that if trying harder would have made it better, then it would be better by now.
It's difficult to be curious when I'm afraid. But I'm trying something that is deeply counterintuitive. I'm slowing down. All the way down, to stop.
Yesterday, I sent my therapist a text:
Remember, the octopus
Everytime I think about it, I'm finding my feet. Settling in. Listening.
I'm setting timers and taking five minute breaks.
I get out my new blocks.
I play whiffle ball with my dog Lady Godiva in the back yard. I hit, she fetches. Her short game is improving. She's getting better at fielding the bunt.
I make art just to make something.
I escape for an hour to stare up at the trees as the sky grows dark.
I go to my improv class.
I do all of these things even though I have work that's overdue. Embarrassingly, painfully overdue.
It feels risky to stop. To play. To breathe. But I'm gonna try. If I fail, at least I will fail trying something new.
*I suspect that the Harry Potter universe may be somewhat responsible for transforming/appropriating the idea of spirit animals from the realm of indigenous cultures. But I'm not writing that blog post today, either.