I’m willing to bet that most of you reading right now, much like me, have a problem I like to call “Overloaded Project Syndrome”.
While this is a preferable disease to many others in the world, it is still debilitating and difficult to live with. And what it entails is a creative mind that WILL. NOT. REST. Constantly tossing around ideas, coining new projects, weighing the possibilities of adding XYZ to the day, when our schedules are already overflowing.
Maybe this doesn’t sound so bad. But, readers, if you can identify with this disease, then you will know that the worst symptom of Overload Project Syndrome is that one physically, emotionally, humanly cannot enact all of the projects that float to the surface.
BUT I STILL TRY.
For example, I have four blogs. This is in addition to actively writing two novels, maintaining two to three day jobs, and an active Ashtanga practice (which, for Primary Series lovers out there, know it’s a time-consuming spiritual endeavor).
I’m not trying to play tit for tat here, or who’s-the-busier-creative or anything. In fact, I think one of my problems is that I assume everyone else is accomplishing a lot more than me, so it drives me to tack on more.
I’m not even a parent yet. So many people do all these things PLUS parenting! So what am I bitching about?
It’s exactly that type of thinking that leads me to start four blogs.
And then later decry the decision.
In fact, it’s that thinking that led to this screen today:
This screen shot gives a slice of my web browser life, which, at the time of this shot, was on the light side. The tabs shown there are related to three day jobs, two blogs, and, clearly, one very screaming self-help google search.
And the results? Interesting, albeit totally unhelpful. But what was I even looking for? I think a better search term would have been, why do I love having so many creative projects?
I can trace this phenomenon back to its roots. I am 6 years old, and my mother is going to a weekly meeting of sorts. Sometimes she brings me along with her. When she does, she instructs me to create “a ditty bag”. A ditty bag is a tote full of all sorts of activities that can keep me busy during the hour or so that she will be unavailable, yet nearby, for the meeting.
I remember packing this baby so full of projects that I didn’t even know where to start once the meeting was underway. Sometimes, I was disappointed that the meeting was over – because I had more ditty bag stuff to do.
I feel like my adult life is similar to this ditty bag. As a writer and amorphous-project-maker, I have lots of ideas, for lots of things, all tucked away in a hundreds of notebooks, word files, post-it notes, and the questionable file cabinets of my brain. Whether it be a collaborative blog project, or a family scrapbooking endeavor, or an inspired organizational spree, or a new novel (or three), or a new article for one of the blogs that has to be written right away for god’s sake…I feel like my ditty bag will never run dry.
In fact, I feel like I have more projects in line than I could feasibly complete during one lifetime.
One of the defining features of my ditty bags, whether the physical ones of my youth or the conceptual ones of my adulthood, is that it has always been full of projects that I wanted to do for myself. It wasn’t a mandate from a higher-up, it wasn’t an external force guiding me into an arena of overworkedness for somebody else’s outcome. It was, and still is, for me.
I have these projects because I want them. I have these projects because my mind will not rest. Because for some reason, part of what constitutes this writer is the annoying blessing of creation and idea-making, and that is, by all rights, a gift I have been given.
I must use this gift, as we all must use our gifts. It is, in fact, the only imperative for our time on earth.
My urge to brainstorm, create, hoard, and complete projects has led to a wide variety of accomplishments that always, always, always started out as wild kernels in the remote beginning. Yet through time and fostering and care, they’ve blossomed into fully realized, or at least half-finished, endeavors, that fan out around me like the colorful feathers of my plumage.
It was true for the solar system model I created when I was 8 years old over the summer because I felt like it and was upset I had never been assigned the project in school.
It was true for the children’s series I wrote when I was 10 about a space shuttle and it’s booster rocket friends exploring space.
It was true for the 5 novels I began throughout high school and college.
It was true for the world adventures I initiated in 2006, starting with living in Mexico with a host family my sophomore year of college.
It was true for a calendar of ugly faces I began in 8th grade and have not stopped gifting new versions to my friends ever since.
It was true for the multitude of blogs I began, including this one.
It was true for my dreadlocks.
And for thousands of other things that just won’t let me rest, poking and prodding at me to fulfill them, realize them, so that somehow I can reach a fuller and more authentically expressed version of myself.
So, readers – what’s in your ditty bag? What do you compile and otherwise provoke into being? What constitutes your ridiculous To-Do List?