I woke up knowing I had a couple of people waiting on me, to return emails. They had requested my time today for voiceover revisions. I'd seen the correspondence come in last night, but at 11pm or so, when I was in that mental state where I feel like I'm not on the clock--not accountable for retaining information that lives in the daytime.
But info with a daytime habitat can also live at night, under the right conditions, and it will do so in a sneakier, more subversive way.
I like to walk alone, first thing in the morning. It's a way of connecting with nature and my inner world, in an active way, before addressing the demands of others. I think I do this to remind myself, experientially and daily, where my life's mission control center is located. I follow most impulses; I touch leaves, crouch down to study how caterpillars move, stretch and dance, take off shoes and put them on, listen in big headphones (to signal my unavailability) to audiobooks, music, self-help videos, or to nothing. I zoom out to a big view of my life and circumstances. I find a hummingbird-like feeling and think about where I want to go next, spiritually, emotionally, physically, in my life. I tune in to what I want to. I enjoy. I channel, funnel, create, integrate, dream, and fully feel my freedom.
Today's walk was harder. It took longer to get into. I didn't do it first thing, so most of it felt less like a deep-dive and more like going thru the blocking of the motions. On my way home, after taking my usual route, I was just starting to zone in to a good process. I had the impulse to continue walking, to listen to this great audio performance of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, to rewind and re-listen in order to digest and contemplate the denser parts; to compare and contrast Pirsig's thoughts to my own. But I came home anyway, to return emails.
I learned something big today. It may seem obvious, but I suppose that's the way learning works: you learn something in your head, but don't really know it until that unsuspecting moment it sinks deeper for some reason, down to your gut. Then you know. Compromised as it was this morning, my walk gave me something: the realization that I'd allowed those emails to come in and live, at 11pm last night, like that sneaky head vampire in The Lost Boys.
Here's how it went down:
- (11pm) Checking of email
- Resistance of temptation to respond right away
- Good ego feeling ("ohhhhh I'm on to you, email - you think I'm going to jump on this... what if I were already asleep right now?")
- Self-deception ("I am totally not going to deal with this until tomorrow. It's like it never happened.")
- Feeling of intrusion
- Suppression of own impulses (I'd felt like editing some band video from a recent show--listening thoroughly for sections that particularly connected, creating new pieces of internet-friendly art from the initial capture - "But, you know, if I'm already gonna be at the computer working... I should probably return those emails so I stop thinking about them....but I don't want to get in the habit of responding to demands at 11pm. But maybe that'll get them out of my head? I'm tired ....Know what? i'm just gonna watch The Staircase on Netflix.")
- Low-grade malaise
- (2am) Sleep (after following The Staircase to its conclusion and eating half of a cauliflower pizza crust from Whole Foods)
- Unremembered dreams that might have included blood-spatter analysis from The Staircase vs. philosophical contemplation of artistic choices in video editing
- (Upon waking) Checking of email (usually relegated to after morning walk)
- Contemplation of whether to return last night's emails now or after walk
- (9:30) Returning of emails
- Walk that took a lot longer than usual to zone into
I'm not blaming the requestors. I'm happy to do what they're asking - I love voiceover. It is the most wonderful way I can think of to practice perspective-taking, empathy, and working with a studio microphone. But the ultimate payoff for my spirit is that I get to channel the practice of voiceover, and its resultant income, into the original work that I create as part of my own human growth and development. This is necessary for me to feel whole, alive, and engaged with my life. And that work takes a lot of deep, uninterrupted diving, and no vampires (even friendly ones) can be allowed to live in that workspace.
So, maybe this post could have been shortened to "Note to self: no more email checking at night." But then I would only know that in my head.