The Soul of the Matter: Balancing Piles of Tribbles…

I’ve just taken a week off. To be honest, I need more time away. Does that sound familiar–the lure of distance and silence and being still? Haven’t we all lost ourselves somewhere like that–nowhere–a time or two?

We need more off-the-grid than our busy lives allow. But how much “down” is enough? When must “doing” become the goal again, even though we’ll never stop needing the opposite?

There’s something eternally good-feeling about the nothing of zero responsibility.

zero responsibility

Yet we want to be productive, too. We build and we push and we create and we dream and bring to life. Whatever our jobs, we do them because we have ambition and drive and discipline. But within us is a deep well of silence, forever wanting. This quietness must be fed, for us to be healthy.

Nosier, bustling objectives reclaim our daily focus faster than any “breaking away” can outrun life.  Yet an inner call for peace lies in wait, continuously biding time, ever demanding. It’s a tricky balance. And when we allow things to go off-kilter–say by taking a much-needed week away from everything–equilibrium can be a bitch to grapple back.

I’ve focused on one goal, an important one, for months now. It’s attained, and I couldn’t be prouder. But… What next? As I survey the overwhelming demand of everything that’s been put off–piles of “I’ll do that tomorrow, or next week, or next month…”–I look at what once seemed easily done later, and now I see daunting obstacles.

I explained this waking up to my husband, as being like watching Tribbles multiply.


You push aside just one or two things, to stay tuned into an important goal, to the exclusion of every distraction. When you next pick up your head, you find ten of the wee furry beasties lurking about. You shrug and go back to work, not overly worried. Once you’re free, ten fluffy, harmless tasks won’t be so hard to handle. Not compared to the difficulty of what must be completed first. Except, deadline achieved, those ten small things are now a hundred or so–a tribe of trouble that your can’t wrap your tired brain around dealing with.

So here I sit, typing, surrounded stacks of demands for my time that overwhelm me, and I search for the clarity to see my way through them. I want more time away, and yet I want to come back. I long to enjoy my work again, while I want the work to go away with a passion that rivals most any other want of my life.

I think what I need, more than anything, is the balance denied by becoming obsessed with achieving a seemingly insurmountable goal. Goals are critical. Achieving them defines us. But we’re, most of us, not made to sustain for long that degree of myopic concentration, to the exclusion of every other inspiration. We’d drown, if we tried to keep up that pace–in piles of trouble, like Tribbles, that come from denying other needs and wants experiences.

Our minds don’t want just one thing. They thrive on a pleasing balance of many things. So this blog is me dipping my toe back into one of the many things I love. Talking to you. Thinking out loud. Believing and saying what I believe, and hearing back from others who like the conversation enough to enjoy it.

I have a book newly out, I’ll begin promoting again, as my publisher gears up to find new readers for my view of the world. I have a son returning to his last year in high school. I have students to teach and friends long-neglected to reconnect with and visit. I have a marriage that deserves more quality time than it’s been given of late. I have a husband who’s supported me through the toughest patch of work deadlines that I’ve ever faced–and we need to breathe together now, instead of holding our breaths and muscling through and fighting not to go under while the water bubbles over our heads.

So, week off-schmeek off. This post isn’t about a vaca or a stay-ca or an escape. This is my challenge to myself and to my readers and friends to love each part of the lives we shove aside too often, in order to complete the crucial tasks before us. Living is even more necessary to success. Balance and living.

balance elephant

I’m going to live again, and I’m going to learn how to keep thriving even during the next great push to achieve some new thing that I accept will be coming, sooner or later. I’m going to find the freedom once more of each day that isn’t solely focused on one task, to the exclusion of everything else. And when that hyper-focus takes over again–and it will, because I’m I writer, and that’s my life–I will still balance. I will feed the distance and silence and need to be something else is, too. I will live.

Know what I mean?

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3 Responses to “The Soul of the Matter: Balancing Piles of Tribbles…”

  1. Tess Mallory says:

    Oh, Anna, how I do know what you mean! What a great post! You have said exactly what I wanted to say on my blog but got sidetracked into talking about how technology steals our time. I so relate to what you wrote and now you have inspired me! Thanks so much.

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