On Delays and a New Relationship with Time

There are few things as maddening to me as delays.

Don't get me wrong--I'm not one of those caff'ed-up people who run through life like Alice's white rabbit. I try to keep things pretty mellow and unhurried on the outside. But on the inside, when it comes to my work, I feel like a racehorse, hungry for the finish line.

I love finishing so much that I always try to get to the finishing part as fast as I can. It's thrilling and elating, and it's this very particular move I have, so I confess it's an easy place for my ego to become entangled. That part of me that wants to be the best or the fastest just salivates over speed.

Not long ago I was talking to my therapist about this film project and she said, "You know, I wonder if, for this project, you could create a timeline that isn't so punitive." I swear I felt the ominous music cue right then, like that moment in the movies where the missile launcher locks onto its target and you just know there's no escaping what's about to come.

"I'll think about that," I probably said, while simultaneously thinking, "Not likely."

Not much later, my husband took a nasty spill in an ice skating accident. He broke his leg, and his ankle in two places. We spent the day at the hospital, and took him home, crutches and all, to our third-floor walk-up apartment in our pedestrian neighborhood.

Let's see, in the two weeks since then we've had another day spent at the hospital, a third nearly 12-hour day there while my husband had surgery to stabilize his ankle while it heals. We've had a feverish pink-eye scare and today it's an orthodontic emergency. 

I have a move called He's On A Trip, but I didn't have a move for this. I've been learning to care for three, to get my two girls to and from their two different schools on my own, and to roll with the complete unpredictability this season holds for us.

I could say so much about the emotional weight of being reminded of how frail we are, or how I'm trying to hold our hearts together with scotch tape and paper clips as we operate out at our thresholds. But I have so little time to write right now, and there are these other things I want to say:

Working slowly scares me. I worry that if I take too long to finish, that I will move on internally to some other conversation. That I will lose the urgency that gets me to the finish line in the first place. I look at other people's long creative projects, like films which are 5-7 years in the making, and wonder how people manage to care so long.

I'm also afraid that the world will move on without me, that people will say, Jen who? 

And if my sense of worthiness is tied into going fast, it's a pretty logical follow that going slowly triggers shame for me. Yesterday I FINALLY finished the opening credit sequence for Indie Kindred that (according to Instagram) I started about a week and a half ago. I was going to guess it was three weeks ago, because it feels like an eternity to me. It's hard to even tell you this because that shame tape is not polite enough to say, I have experienced delays. It goes straight to, I am a failure. What was I thinking? I'll never pull this off.

So I'm just noticing all that's coming up for me around delays. The care-taking requires so much of me that I have to make sure my own care doesn't slip through the cracks. This leaves precious little time left. In my more weary moments I call dear friends who can catch my frustration, but in my better moments I hold panic at bay and apply myself to the awkward reworking of my relationship with time.

How do YOU navigate delays and the frustration that can so easily follow?