I am a workaholic. I am compelled to chase every idea I have. I feel responsible for fixing every problem for which I can perceive a solution. This is possibly my most defining characteristic - at least in my own characterization of myself.
There are some amazing upsides:
I founded an opera company with no money, and only human resources, which, more than a decade later, continues to thrive against all odds. I've performed in operas across the world. I've designed policies and procedures, rebuilt filing systems, built databases, built accounting systems, raised money, produced concerts, written millions of words, sent and received bazillions of emails, repaired broken professional relationships for employers, collected tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid invoices, joined clubs, attended live performances, memorized millions of notes and words in foreign languages, taught countless voice lessons, and driven hundreds of thousands of miles. My life is rich for the people I've met and the experiences I've had. I am perpetually pushed to the limits of what my brain and body can handle. It's all very stimulating.
There are also downsides:
I've lost important relationships. I failed in my marriage. I have alienated friends and family members. I've shed many tears. I've missed important events in other people's lives. I've lost thousands of hours of sleep. I've made myself sick. I've had panic attacks. I've suffered from crippling depression. I've divided and subdivided my attention many times over. I've missed out on my own life because I was too focused on what came next. I've been profoundly lonely, lost, and unhappy. I've felt like I would never, ever be enough.
I am not alone in my workaholism. My struggle is not special or new or set apart from the struggles of others. But it's my struggle.
Seth Godin's quote, which is the subject of this blog post, showed up in my inbox this morning. It spoke to me. I believe he meant it as a call to action - that we should all do what we can do, but I heard it as a call to let go, to sit still, and to have faith. It will be particularly hard to do those things today, given the stakes, but me wringing my hands will accomplish nothing. Obsessively refreshing FiveThirtyEight will not change the outcome. Posting articles on the echo-chamber that is Facebook will not sway anyone in my circles to vote any differently than they'd already planned. For me, as a citizen and not a campaign staffer, having already cast my vote, the work is done.
I want to be more present, more relaxed, more healthy, more available, and free from the pressure of self-imposed obligations. I want my artistry to be more complete and my experience of life on this planet to be more whole. I want my relationships to be as deep and as meaningful as they can be.
If I can use today, this election day, to practice non-doing, maybe that's a good start. And maybe that's enough.