On September 6, 2001, I attended a one-day seminar in Time Management. Armed with notes, a binder, a few how-to-get-organized books, and a very cool day planner, I remember thinking that my life would be changed forever now that I had this information, that I would never feel overwhelmed, and I would always feel in control. That's pretty much what the instructor said would happen if we followed the seminar's guidelines. And if we had any questions or problems as we worked to implement these new tools, we could call the help line and a friendly advisor would walk us through any roadblocks.
During the next few days, I felt so empowered getting my life's loose ends into several to-do lists. They had themes, they utilized the coding system we were shown, and they even had subcategories. Life was good. Or it would be once I actually incorporated this new info into my life.
On Tuesday morning, September 11th, I woke up to the news that would change all of our lives. Suddenly, categorized to-do lists and color-coded dividers in my new day planner were meaningless. Stunned and virtually paralyzed, I was overwhelmed by what that morning meant to us in the moment, as well as in our lifetime; how others' lives and spirits and the way they looked at life would be forever transformed.
I was still in a daze on Thursday. Useless for just about any task, I figured I'd try to resume working on my time-management project. I soon realized that I was simply incapable of getting back to 'normal' activities, so I called the course's friendly advisor, who was supposed to walk me through this little glitch and get me back on track. When I explained that since Tuesday I'd found it impossible to even care about getting organized and felt so 'what’s the use?' he was stupefied. He had no idea what I was talking about.
In all fairness, I realize now that this was more a call for 'connection' than for advice. I needed him to tell me that he'd gotten similar calls from others who were in a state of shock and felt helpless. I needed him to tell me to go through whatever I was going through, put the day planner on a shelf for now, and cry, if that's what I needed to do. Instead, he enumerated the basics we'd learned in the workshop and sent me on my way.
I learned something important during those few days, though. I learned that sometimes the show just doesn't go on. That sometimes we need to curl up in the fetal position and grieve. Or, in more 'normal' times like this Autumn, to just say 'no' to over-extending ourselves and, instead, pull inward and rest and listen to what our hearts are telling us. For truly, this is a step towards compassion, authenticity, and a better world.