© 2011 Lynsey

Drowning in work

I watered Plant at work today. Yes, this is the legendary plant, known to friends the world over as Plant. I didn’t want to over-water – to drown it – Plant and I are still getting used to the new location and aircon…

I wondered about drowning. Drowning is a most unpleasant experience. As a kid I misjudged my swimming abilities in a way that could’ve gone badly wrong. There was definitely more water in the Gonville pool than I could cope with. As an adult I know people not too far away from my desk who say that they are drowning in their work. I always feel uncomfortable when I hear people say that – the choking panic is a very clear memory to me.

But many of us do overload ourselves with work. We either take it on, or willingly allow ourselves to be pushed into ever deeper depths of workload. We want to do a good job, show off our capacities in front of friends and colleagues, and end up choking and gagging. There’s definitely more water in the work pool than you can cope with.

When I finally struggled to the surface, panicking, coughing out the burning chlorinated water, all I could think about was getting out of the water, and on to the sun baked concrete. I can remember flapping my right arm over the edge and feeling the reassuring burn of the concrete. I wanted to hang on to some sort hand grip – anything – but that concrete was the best there was, and at that moment it was the best thing ever. I managed to clamber out of the pool and I sat there feeling sorry for myself (and not a little stupid), taking stock and trying to stop shivering.

After the terror started to fade, I noticed the other people – kids mostly – shouting, giggling, splashing, and having a great time. The water in the pool was this gorgeous, sparkling blue. The sky – a perfect Summer day. The colours, sounds, sensations – everything was magic, beautiful. I’m drowning one moment, drinking in the beauty the next.

The reality is, the beauty was there, surrounding me, all the time. I just needed to almost lose it in order to see it, to experience the precious moment. If you’re drowning in your work, I urge you lift your head up about the surface and suck down some life-giving space into your lungs. Stick your head up like a meerkat, and look around. Look.

Precious moments.

How many do you think you’re going to have?

02. Every day is an opportunity for a new beginning.
05. Every day is now. The present moment.
19. Every day make time for yourself.

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