The Micromanager’s Surrender
There is nothing like coming down to earth with a bump – quite literally in my case. I fell off my bike quite spectacularly last Monday and landed on my face. Prior to that I had been living in some parallel but different universe where Micromanagement was King and Busy-ness was what you did to keep everything holding up OK. Or was it?
Fast forward to Tuesday and I was laid up in bed with a broken face, some time off work and a bit of welcome reprieve from the daily chores. But even in the throes of incapacity, there was a part of me that wanted to break through the duvet covers and reach for my felt tips to write my ‘to do’ list (colour co-ordinated for prioritising tasks in time critical order). The thought of ‘just lying there’ and ‘recovering’ was absurd when I had to ensure that I had to take some shoes back to the House of Fraser within the 14 day time limit; look for a gardener; finish planning the summer holidays and phone the carpet people to let them know to come round on Friday instead of Thursday.
My head splintered as action plans turned into painful swirling dervishes in my frontal lobes.
So I did the sensible thing that any recovering micromanager (and head injury patient) would do: I surrendered to the here and now. I watched telly, read books and took pleasure in googling pointless and irrelevant facts.
Living in the digital world is the micromanager’s dream. We can control every single thing we do by an app: the number of walking steps we take, how to find someone else by way of location sharing, how many calories we will burn off between the chicken sandwich at lunchtime and the mars bar at 3pm and how we can stop the baby crying. Everything is there to be calibrated, measured and controlled at the touch of a thumb print. We can plan and schedule every minute of every hour of every day of every week to the extent that there is no room for spontaneity or anything that remotely deviates from something which can be fully within our power and control. We are each kings of our own little digitally-managed fiefdoms.
So when we are washed over by some unexpected life tsumani: an accident, a job loss or even a sudden lottery win, we feel that our digitally-managed fiefdoms are at risk of being break-away anarchic states. We have held the reins of our lives so tight up until this point that if we let go, we fear that they will somehow run away from us.
But for us digital-age micromanagers, allowing life to run away a bit is a good thing. All the colour co-ordinated to-do lists and scheduler notifications are but a symptom of a lack of surrender to the creative process (and creative can be good or bad, as good things can come out of ‘bad’). We can take tiny steps towards goals and generally conduct ourselves and our lives in a manner which is beneficial to ourselves or others but in the end, of course, we cannot control what happens. More importantly, it is always possible that the life tsumani is the much required wake-up call that we need so that we can find some humility and let go a bit.
A change is as good as a rest but a rest is as good as a change as well. I have necessarily had to slow down this week and as such I’ve taken notice of more going on around me. I’ve been a lot more present. I have also realised that some of the things that have concerned me recently have been unimportant. I have let go a lot: of expectations of myself and others and of my need to be constantly ‘doing’, managing or problem-solving. The accident was not a pleasant experience but the recovery period has opened up my perspective, even if only temporarily. For now I’m quite enjoying seeing which way the wind blows me (without the use of a wind meter app). Plus remarkably, I have not reached for my felt tip pens or for my scheduler yet my life is still holding up.