I search through the layers of papers on my desk. The most recent projects – bills to pay, medical bills I need to interpret, several “To Do” lists – implore my attention. A layer down are the projects I wish I could be working on, from writing that next article to research on the next book. Beneath that, other projects I once deemed important. Digging further, papers for ideas long since forgotten.
A former colleague of mine was the ultimate in OCD. His desk during the day contained only the single file he was currently working on, a file that always found its way to unseen storage each night. A straight edge guided each pen stroke so that even writing was pitch perfect. After being in his office I had to retreat to my own messiness to recover.
Life is also a series of layers. The urgent, important or not, absorbs most of our precious time. The most important to our happiness and well-being often is buried beneath the surface distractions. We work long hours, deal with crisis after crisis, rush hither and thither, and only then, if we can find the time, do we give attention to the multiple layers of our existences.
The sunset is beautiful today; did you notice? Your son’s choreography won best in show. Your daughter’s team won the state finals. Were you there?
Has the “book in you” come out yet? The trip to visit the masterpieces of Italy been arranged? The relaxing retreat in the cabin on the island in the lake – is it still waiting for you?
The top layers get all our attention. But the other layers are what gives our lives depth.
David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book on Abraham Lincoln is due out in 2017.