The weather forecast for today was for cloudy and rain, and as I walked to the gym it was drizzling. I allowed myself to indulge in a long Sunday workout and juicy stretch, and planned to use the day to catch up on writing and work.
By the time I left the gym it was warm and sunny. Hot, actually.
In these last days of summer, the weather was calling me to get on a train and go up to my parents house in Scarsdale for a few hours of relaxation by the pool.
I scrapped my plans to run a few errands and headed straight home to change and pull my things together.
It was around 10:30 am; the 11:24 am train was a realistic possibility if I could get my act together and stay focused.
I started to gather my things and pack my bags. I was on pace.
Then I had second thoughts.
The Spin Cycle of Indecision
I spend so much of my week running from appointment to appointment, place to place. I’m hardly ever in one place for too long.
Did I really want to rush to the subway, and then to the train, only to have, at most, a few hours of rest by the pool?
It seemed like a lot of hassle that might be counter-productive to the goal of resting.
At the same time, I have a lot of work I want to do.
Perhaps the day would be better spent staying in the city and making progress on some projects.
Just like that, I was caught up in the spin cycle of indecision.
I was scurrying around my apartment, gathering my things, while the voices in my head were telling me that my time would be better spent doing something else.
The rational voice in my head was calculating the time math that we so often calculate in this situation. You know that math, right?
- At least an hour door to door = 2 hours.
- Time spent at destination = 2.5-3 hours, at most.
The math was telling me that it wasn’t worth my time to go.
Of course, while this was happening, the clock was ticking away. Suddenly, the 11:24 train was not such a sure thing. I would have to make a mad dash. My mind anticipated the familiar patterns: the rush to the subway, waiting on edge for the subway to arrive, the sprint through Grand Central Terminal to make the train.
I could feel the knots in my stomach as the feeling of that familiar sprint flooded my body.
I didn’t have it in me today.
I could take the next train.
My mind went back to recalculate the time math.
And then… I stopped.
The Higher Truth
I saw where I was: heading down into the vortex of the spin cycle, that place that breeds indecision and the feeling of being stuck. I have long since abandoned the home I used to have in this place, but it was familiar territory. Only this time I knew I didn’t have to go there if I didn’t want to.
I stopped everything. I sat down on a chair. I closed my eyes. I took a deep, grounding breath.
Inhale. Exhale. Another. And another.
I checked in with my body as I asked a more empowering question:
What do I feel like doing today? What do I want to do?
I summoned my higher truth. I listened for the voice that doesn’t care about the to-do list or time math or what makes sense. I listened for the voice that doesn’t care about what is optimal or most productive.
I asked that voice:
If there was nothing you had to do today, what would you want to do?
And then I listened.
What came to me next surprised me.
I really wanted to sit on a train. Not even to go anywhere. Just to sit in one place while I watched the scenery.
This may sound odd, but the truth is that I love the train. I love that I can sit still while the scenery changes around me. Something about being in motion stimulates my thoughts and creativity; this is common for people with ADHD, and is often a challenge for me in working. When I’m walking around, my ideas flow. When I stop, so do they.
The train is one of the few places where I can be sitting still and moving at the same time — and I can get work done without getting headaches.
Seriously. I love the train.
What I don’t love is rushing to make the train.
I don’t love feeling like the moment I arrive somewhere I need to think about when I’m going to leave.
The constant feeling of “I need to be somewhere else” drains my energy and steals my creativity. It steals my soul.
If I’m not rushing and sprinting to the train then the train is a delight. I can use the time to write. I can use it for thinking time. I can disconnect entirely and watch the scenery.
A Reframe and Insight
Suddenly, I considered my day from a new perspective:
What if I made the train the focus of my day today, and any time by the pool was incidental to that?
Viewed from that perspective, it wouldn’t matter how long I had to stay at the pool before heading back. It wouldn’t matter if the weather changed.
Just like that, the train was no longer just the way to get to my destination; it was my destination.
The journey is the destination.
Ha. We hear that so often, but I finally got it. This is what it means.
Instead of viewing the commuting time as something to endure to get to the destination, I included it within the circle of my experience.
The Price of Rushing
When we rush, we allow ourselves to be taken over by the feeling that we should be somewhere other than where we are. And when we are in that feeling of believing we should be somewhere else, we are not in the present.
This is a place of constant tension for me.
For most of my life I focused primarily on the path to achievement.
When we focus only on the goal, we can easily get caught up in believing a story about what time is “productive” and what time is “wasted.” We look for the most efficient use of time.
So it was for me. Every path was a necessary evil on the way to achieving the next big milestone, only to arrive there and then wonder: Now what?
There is always a next place.
We rush to our destination, but we never really arrive anywhere.
This is not productive. It’s not even living. It’s being on a treadmill and never getting off. Always going somewhere but never being anywhere.
Anytime we are caught up in where we should be, we are no longer where we are.
Every experience blends together in a blur. And we don’t stop because on some deeper level we know that if we stop, we will feel the emptiness of never truly experiencing the moments of our life.
Suddenly I realized the higher truth: the journey and the destination are not separate things. They are the same. One doesn’t exist without the other.
What if I had already arrived?
What if there was no next place to be – either geographically or in the timeline of my life? What if I was already here?
By making the journey part of my destination, I expanded my day. I expanded time.
On the train, I intermittently wrote and took in the view.
At my parents house I had a surprise visit with my nieces and my sister and brother-in-law. We all ate lunch together outside by the pool. When they left, I relaxed by the pool. I read my book. I went for a short swim. I rested. The sun was shining bright. It was a beautiful summer day.
And I was there, for every moment of it.