Clearing the Cruft

For the last couple of weeks, I've been working primarily to others' deadlines. Nothing wrong with that, at all! I enjoy working for clients. I've even managed to get some of my own writing done, though of course not as much as I do when my clients are scrambling around at their end.

A side effect of working to others' deadlines is that I can start to feel...important. I may be working during a 25-minute break between meetings and pick up an email from a client who wants me to get something back to him about 30 minutes after my next meeting ends -- something that's do-able, but just, and only because I was actually available to pick up the email. I saved the day! Yay me!

It's sorta like being a business person in a movie. Only early in the movie, before the business person (Sarah Jessica Parker, Tom Cruise) learns to slow down and smell the roses and take care of their new love's kid.

Although I like the work and I don't mind at all being responsive, in large doses, the life isn't particularly good for me. I can feel myself getting addicted to the energy. Except that it's not good energy. It's energy like sticky over-toasted marshmallow energy. There's a rush, and a crash, and I get snappish during both. Not good. It's not clean. It leaves me feeling like the toasting fork after you pull the outer burnt sugar shell off and are looking at knobby bits of molten marshmallow contents. Blech.

Today, I'm embarking on a week of a different sort. I'll be with family. It will be great. Also exhausting and possibly sad and hilarious at different times. Yep, my relatives all have a performance gene, and I predict that it will be in evidence this weekend. Fortunately, I'm good at being audience.

But here's the best part: in between the clients and the family, I got to have a day. It's the best thing for clearing the cruft that's left on the toasting fork after you've attempted toasting marshmallows. In fact, that's exactly what it's like, except without the sticky residue, fire, and pointy implements.

My day consisted of taking a six-hour drive through beautiful countryside. The delays for road work didn't matter. The traffic hasn't bothered me either, knock wood, though I am taking a break to let the worst of city traffic die down before I reach my final destination for the evening. I drive at the speed I want. I stop when I want. I take the route I want. I sing in the car.

So, next time you wonder if you're getting a little too addicted to the adrenaline and find yourself whiny when suddenly your inbox gets quiet, I highly recommend driving. By yourself. And if you have a playlist full of Canadian content -- Holly Cole, Sophie Milman, Meaghan Smith, Jill Barber, and of course Molly  Johnson -- then you really are lucky. Maybe not quite as lucky as Molly Johnson's song, but close.