I had to punt my morning exercise: it’s a weights day, but my trainer had a family need. My workout partner’s out of town, so it was all on me. Being already dressed and shod, AND noticing that the air was still temperate (!), I picked up water, phone and headset, loaded up my podcast feed, and started walking. (Look, J! No slacking!)
Today’s podcasts turned out to be on sustaining your operating rhythm—Accidental Creative about how steady effort beats hustle, and Productive Flourishing on turning back from burnout. Synchronicity is the coolest! Not that I’ve been in that place lately—more like the opposite—but personal energy management continues to be on my mind.
Somewhere in the second third of my walk, Charlie from PF was trying to articulate Creative Giant operating modes (vs. less-pegged people’s modes). One of the phrases he used was “push/fallow;” that is, a sort of all-out sprint, followed by a balancing (even equal) period of rest. Charlie went on to say that he didn’t think that was a practical mode for contemporary life, to come to a virtual stop, but too late, my brain was already caught.
Because this is what I do. Push, fallow. Yet I keep getting conflicted about the fallow part-!
The recognition felt so happy I kicked into 200-yd-swim mode. I mean, I have a usual exercise-walk pace that’s not slow (maybe a 20-minute mile?) but somehow I did on foot the “thing” that I do in the water for a 200. It’s as if I change gears. I know I have the sprint-energy and the stamina to markedly pick up my pace, I visualize a finishing point, and I push. Today my breathing even shifted to a swimming rhythm, for heaven’s sake.
I was so clearly pushing that a racer-mom held her brood in place so they wouldn’t interrupt my flow. They were at my “wall” (it’s a pity the air doesn’t support the sharp splash of a touch), as it happened, but it was a great compliment.
Man, the push felt good. Almost as good as swimming. And the semi-stroll home felt good, too.
I suspect that, if I could hook into a similar recognition in my mental efforts, I could reinforce a consistency that would better please me. When I swim with a stretching, slow-paced stroke after a middle-distance sprint, both paces feel good all over. If I can take days like today is shaping up to be—I’m in a loping rhythm of efforts that has spilled over from the morning—and add an intentional regrouping activity, perhaps I can engrave a pattern of mental effort the way swimming’s physical effort is inscribed within me.
Perhaps, while I’m at it, I can better anchor another fallow-image I saw while walking: a well.
There are a lot more wells here in central Texas than I was aware of in the other places that I’ve lived. Most of them here fill from the aquifer they’re on rather than a from spring at the bottom. That is, you can drain the well from time to time… and then you just have to wait until enough water seeps in to fill it again.
Sometimes the water table is high, and it refills fairly quickly. But sometimes not.
I found myself wondering whether one of the collateral bits of living with my jaguar-brain is that, fundamentally, I’m either in push-mode or in fallow-mode. Or, going back to the well metaphor, that I have a lot of depth to draw from, and I can draw it all up quickly,
but when I do, then I have to wait until it fills again. Or content myself with small cups’-worth for a while.
Hm. Time will tell whether these are images (presences?) that I can re-use. I’ll keep you posted… or not, which will also let you know how useful this turns out to be-!