Don’t take yourself too personally

David Allen and David Demets
David Allen and David Demets

Grey is the new black

I’m 36. My first grey hairs have appeared. In my eyebrows! I didn’t expect them there. They just pop up when and where they please. I have no say in the matter.

I’m taking control! (Right?)

I read a lot about life-hacking, productivity, effectiveness … I adopt better habits and see how they lead to positive changes both at work and at home.

For example: years ago at the office, we just took work as it came. In between copywriting, audio editing, video editing, designing websites, brochures or posters (and occasionally serving as a substitute yoga instructor), I did whatever landed on my desk.

There was no clear focus. Things didn’t get done when they were due. Stuff piled up. I had little to say and felt like I was constantly putting out fires. Something had to change, and it most certainly did when I introduced GTD at work.

Now surprises still pop up and there are a lot of loose ends, but we deal with it in a more relaxed way. We’re better prepared, take more time for what matters and our service has improved a great deal. I even work from home a couple of days a week.

It feels like I’m proactively taking life into my own hands.

But am I really?

If I pause to take a better look, I notice how this body and mind do everything by themselves. The heart beats, lungs breathe, eyes blink, hairs turn grey … The body keeps on hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling and feeling while the hands move to type these words.

Where do the ideas come from that lead to this text? I don’t know what my next thought will be. Yet: suddenly there it is! Something approves of it or rejects it. All by itself.

Meanwhile a nineties song is on repeat in the back of my head, ever since I heard it yesterday. I’d prefer something by Jamie Lidell right now, but I can’t simply will Hole away.

It all happens automagically. And yet I take it all so personally. Without much thought I feel responsable for what this body and mind do. But if “they” do it all on their own, what is this “I” anyway? And what is this “you” then?

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