We follow familiar pathways of experience in our favorite park, most significant friendships, and passionate career pursuits. We perceive the least anxiety choice is to follow when there are tracks already there in the snow.
Ask any backcountry skier. They will contrast the ‘following tracks view’ vis-à-vis going it alone where there are no tracks – because entering unexplored territory is something that makes us anxious, not wanting to get off course or fall in any crevasses …
Did any great accomplishment, discovery, or breakthrough come from following someone else’s tracks? Not often.
Going off track, making a new path is not just a brain-candy metaphor; it is indeed where creativity goes to thrive, where innovation comes alive, where change happens.
Staying on track emotionally with things that are not working well is a trait most of us have, because change is something we grapple with. It doesn’t seem to matter whether that change is better, worse, or just the same – it is change, or rather fear of change that gets us stuck, immovable, and sometimes paralyzes our future.
I am dealing with two ‘track issues’ right now. If I break it down, probably more than two, but for the purpose of what I am writing today, let’s call it a two-track problem.
I got off-track.
Daily routine messed up, balance of writing, work, business, clients, obligations, aspirations – suddenly in a mix of mixed up. Why? The easy explanation (excuse) is that I introduced something new which has taken up time and altered my routine. If that was the only issue, I think I would have solved it by now – the way you work on an algebra problem with a couple variables, and the solution is arrived at; I wish it were that simple.
Getting back-on-track, or rather ‘amending the track’ calls into question whether it was the right track, the best track, to be on in the first place.
The issues seem simple: time of wakeup, walking, writing, breakfast, newspapers, postings online, preparing the workday. The off-track trigger was Gusta’s death in June. The ‘morning walk before writing’ of many years was suddenly not as time-sensitive because there was no four-legged critter in need of a walk/toileting. Allowing this to alter my routine was an excuse I allowed myself. As weeks moved into months, I experimented with ‘changing my routine.’ Fundamental to that routine for several years has been ‘writing in the mornings,’ and ‘real estate work in the afternoons.’ Evenings always seemed filled with whatever wasn’t done. This confusion, lack of focus had to stop. I knew I needed a better plan. Working on focus, on a new track, was going fine … until Medium interrupted.
I began writing more, writing again on Medium after several years away, that the daily management of ‘that process’ was messing with everything else in my routine. And much like a lot of social media things, it was a bit addictive. And fun.
Add podcasts. Yes, a long-postponed exploration into podcasts was happening too.
I have now begun doing podcasts – several streams and a routine, a plan. And a schedule for that work along with my Medium postings.
Am I on a ‘new track’ yet?
It feels like a better balance.
Mornings still begin with coffee, newspapers, breakfast, and writing – in some order. They are anchored by exercise – almost always a walk first, sometimes a visit to the treadmill, and often both within a short time frame. The walk for leisure, fresh air, deer sightings, and writing inspiration, with the treadmill time to get my heart rate up and my waist-line down.