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Day 171: All The Difference

“Every day of our lives we are on the verge of making those slight changes that would make all the difference.” ~Mignon McLaughlin

Annie Dillard wrote: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” I have long been aware of this fact and have used it as a driving force to accomplish as much as I can in each day. In many respects I feel like my drive to get things done, to check off the goals on my list and to remain motivated and focused despite setbacks has served me well. It has also made me tired. I often push through my fatigue, riding a second or third wave of energy when what I really need is rest.

For me, learning to do less and accomplish more begins by making peace between my emerging contentment and my long standing drive to succeed. Actually the ability to hold those two experiences side by side makes both of them healthier and more productive. Balancing the drive to get things done and the need to rest, feed the same ends and balance out a life you can love.

This morning I heard an interview with George Wein, who at 84 is back in the game of promoting Jazz festivals. When he discussed the key to his success, he differentiated himself from most music promoters who get into the business to make money. He was involved with jazz first as a pianist and a lover of the art form. Just being around and in the music, hearing something he never heard before was how he defined his success. Over and over again, what I hear from people who have succeeded on their own terms is that it is the passion for the work that is the key to success.

Learning to stop and pause and create the time to slow down and appreciate what is working, who we are connected to and the immediate experience of our days is actually a route to more productivity. Slowing down helps us to eliminate the extraneous distractions that can consume our time and lead to self defeating choices. Less can be more when we are really engaged in a single task or even allow ourselves the time to deeply connect, we walk away feeling accomplished.

I rested today. I shared intimate times with my family. I listened inside. I didn’t think about all the things I had to get done. I took a nap. It was a graceful and peaceful interlude. It was an accomplishment.