Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Carrying Pebbles...

I've gone on a journey recently.  I've traveled long and far, but believe it or not... haven't moved beyond the routes of my daily routines.  You see, the journey I've made wasn't a physical one, so much as one made in the heart, mind and spirit.  It was long overdue, and like actual travel and being in another place... while exhilarating and full of curious wonder, it was also very exhausting.

I was sitting in the shop one day, working on pricing and inventory, when I made a sudden realization.  "I'm overwhelmed."  The task at hand wasn't the culprit.  But it was everything else.

I thought about what exactly was causing this anxiety.  What was making me feel like something inside me was hanging by a thread, about to rip?  What was it that made me feel so tired?  From the outside, things looked beautifully happy; my brother had returned after being missing for 22 years, the store was picking up and doing better than ever, and I was making friends in the community and setting down roots.  As I started to think harder on the topic, little things came up like the outstanding Netflix DVDs I had to put in the mail, unanswered emails, the blinking oil light in the car... and list grew and grew and grew.  Suddenly, I couldn't keep track anymore.  I kept revisiting things on my list.  I got confused.  I got frustrated and ultimately, I got mentally tired.

And that's when it dawned on me.  Carrying a pebble alone is not a big feat, but trying to carry a hundred pebbles... now that's trickier.

So my first destination on this journey was to find a proverbial bag to collect my pebbles in.

The answer to where I might find "the bag" was sitting right in front of my face.  We had just stocked an assortment of Moleskines.  If you're not familiar with Moleskines, they're a brand of quality notebooks in various sizes that come in a multitude of colors and paper kinds.  Like Pablo Picasso, Oscar Wilde, and Henri Matisse, I found them highly useful and wanted to offer them in the store.  My own personal Moleskine had run out a few weeks prior and I had been in need of starting a new one.

I didn't realize just how much in need I had been.  For the next hour, I started making lists of everything that I needed to do.  Little or big, I included it.  The list started to grow several pages long, but I kept adding to it until I felt satisfied that I had covered everything... or nearly everything that I could think of.  No wonder why I felt tired all the time!  I was mentally carrying around the weight of a boulder!

When I was in middle school, my parents purchased a property that would be the future site of their home.  At first it was a tangle of overgrown brush.  Little by little, my best friend, my family and I cleared the property and tamed the briars and invasive vines.  Until we removed the mass of unfriendly vegetation, the crowning jewel of the property couldn't be seen... the lake.  It was a lot of hard work, but when we finished our goal, we had a million dollar view!

Once the view of the lake had been cleared, one of our favorite pastimes became throwing pebbles (and occasionally broken pieces of concrete cinder block) into the lake and admiring our splashes.  We actually got the idea from the jumping bass that would leap up into the air to catch bugs and flop back down.  My best friend and I were convinced that the other had been guilty of making the initial splash without the other one somehow seeing it until the fish made a guest appearance by jumping over my head while I waded out to the scene of the crime.

Now that I had collected my pebbles... the task then became to toss them back to the universe.  I would get a shiver of pleasure as I put a checkmark next to the outstanding item.  The bigger the task, the bigger the splash.

The list is far from being completed and continues to grow.  But as I work my way through it, I stumbled upon a profound sense of ease.  Being more proactive in the decluttering of my life has helped take away the feeling of being burdened and has helped reopen channels of thoughts and feelings.  I could appreciate the sunset more now that I wasn't constantly worrying as things piled up around me.  Who knew that a little black book would help open the doorway to a bigger journey?

17 comments:

SummersStudio said...

Good to hear from you, Andrew. I was just thinking about you today and missing you. I've been there with that pile of pebbles of boulder weight. It's good to just get it all spilled out on paper so that you can put it aside for a while. I'm so happy you found this outlet.

Zoe Nelson said...

For me, sometimes just making the list relieves some of the burden. At least then I know everything is in one place and nothing will get forgotten. Best wishes in whittling down your list!

Andrew Thornton said...

The list was helpful in many ways. I'll be talking more about the "journey" that I went on and some of the things that I picked up along the way in the coming weeks.

Thanks for your comment and for your support!

Andrew Thornton said...

Hey Zoe! Yes, just writing it down was extremely cathartic. But it is about repaying old debts and fulfilling outstanding obligations. Some of the things on the list were mundane... others... not so much. And it's a work in progress. Thanks for the good wishes!

Andrew Thornton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
YaY! Jewelry said...

Thanks Andrew...wonderful read! Sounds like me spinning my wheels. I might just try what you did and see what happends.

Pine Ridge Treasures said...

Great post, Andrew! You have inspired me to try this. I feel like I am carrying a lot of pebbles.

Bobbie said...

Lists are a lifesaver, but recently my pebbles have been deposited on several different legal pads. If I'm lucky enough to remember which pad has the relevant information, I make progress. If not....

Something in the back of my mind had been nudging me toward consolidating all my lists and notes. I'm taking your mention of the moleskin notebooks as a sign from the universe that I need to combine, consolidate, and put all my pebbles in one pile. Thank you!

Andrew Thornton said...

Bobbie, before the Moleskines came in, I was using different booklets that I created from stapled pieces of paper, but like you... I was subject to if I had the right booklet or not. I think there's a magic in having everything in one place. It definitely has helped me prioritize and organize.

dogfaeriex5 said...

First I love the new banner and second I need to do the lists as my pebbles are getting heavy heavy heavy!!!!!!
Thank you for a great post!

Andrew Thornton said...

Thank you! The banner is actually from the top portion of the photo I used on this post. It's a view of the sunset here at our property.

And good luck with all the pebbles. I think I had so many pebbles that I was building a wall.

TesoriTrovati said...

I, too, have been thinking of you. I love the way you have simplified this problem for yourself. Those proverbial pebbles sure to get heavy when you lug around a crate of them. I am with you on that one. I have so many pebbles that sometimes it gets hard to move, or know where to look next because there is always another willing me to pick it up and lug it on. Thank you for giving me some perspective today. Enjoy the day, friend. Erin

taralinda said...

Wow! I needed to read this now; sometimes the anxiety just takes over, and lists do literally help to break it down. But what I like best about your remedy- is that you went back to old skool~ MoleSkine books. I was using my phone, an app... which just isn't as satisfying. It feels SO much better to actually write, and to take out a small book, touch the leather, the pages, underline, circle, draw, & finally mark off the things we get done.
Thank you for this reminder Andrew! I'm off to get my Moleskin. ;)

taralinda said...

Wow! I needed to read this now; sometimes the anxiety just takes over, and lists do literally help to break it down. But what I like best about your remedy- is that you went back to old skool~ MoleSkine books. I was using my phone, an app... which just isn't as satisfying. It feels SO much better to actually write, and to take out a small book, touch the leather, the pages, underline, circle, draw, & finally mark off the things we get done.
Thank you for this reminder Andrew! I'm off to get my Moleskin. ;)

Rebecca said...

I so know where you are coming from and even as I was reading your post, I felt myself reaching for a notebook. I am also one who feels overwhelmed, and then feels almost guilty for this as there seems not to be one big thing hanging over me, simply a bunch of pebbles as you describe them. But you are right - if you have 100 pebbles, it is a boat load and hard to cope with. I am going to make my list now! Thank you!

Shaiha said...

I know exactly what you mean. I am not good with lists however all the little things that I need to do kept escaping me and would keep me up at night worrying about what I was forgetting. My solution was being able to schedule everything in outlook. And since I carry my tablet computer everywhere with me, I have my reminders at hand.

baba paul said...

Oh my gosh! Dawn and I have been all about pebbles! she came to the beach this summer and we had the best time and we thought about you. Still want to find a way to visit! It's been a crazy summer. I love this post, Andrew. You are so insightful my friend!