(Finding my) Why at the bottom of the drawer

I finished Duhigg’s Power of Habit yesterday, and among the things I filed away I noted how he stresses every habit has a reward, a payout.

A Why.

I’m not getting to skimp on these dare-prompts, am I?

Even more— Chelsea Dinsmore posted today about productivity, how she gets her stack (the stack she chooses) done. And one of her rules of thumb is “finding ease in chaos.”

Somehow that snapped some of my bricks together: for 20 years I followed my biggest Why, and that Why meant I tossed everything into the chaos.

I wanted to do everything I could think of to raise capable, independent young women.

When that meant having a full-time job to keep my brain appropriately occupied, I did that. When that meant being physically present so middle-schoolers got an extra sanity-check for any Great Ideas (“What if Mom sees me? S***!”), I worked from home…and fewer hours. I changed schedules, shifted deadlines, paused what I was doing when a girl said, “Mommy, I need a hug.” I looked in the mirror at my aging physique, bit my tongue, and ate more vegetables. And more — 20 years takes up space that I’m not taking up here.

But everything I chose to do flexed and bobbed and wove around that Why.

Now, I am a poet. That didn’t go away. I wrote during this whole time, but that writing is like sleep, or breathing. It didn’t have a Why. Doesn’t have a Why.

As I move through 2016, I see more clearly that a day’s work needs a Why. If my poetry is my day’s work, I need some larger Why — something that keeps me from choosing sleeping instead. Or laundry. There’s always a hundred things that could be done, and many of them (like laundry) get more social reward.

Today, too, I see more clearly, and kindly, that it may take a while to articulate a Why that grounds me as firmly as the Why I had before. But now I know what I  know.

(*any rhythmic assonance in this post h/t to the soundtrack for Hamilton…which I’ve been listening to since Sunday…wait for it… non-stop -!)

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