Over the past six months or so, my life has been subsumed by “The Crazy.” It started with just being busy. Then it became crazy busy. Then it was just The Crazy.
The Crazy is that thing that wakes you up at 4 am because you’re afraid you forgot to send an email. The Crazy is feeling in your legs that makes you bounce out of bed because you’re afraid that you’re already late and things are going to fall apart. The Crazy is that sense that you had when you woke up that you never really slept.
The Crazy is what drives you to drink a third cup of iced coffee at five in the afternoon. The Crazy is the million worries yelling at you when you’re supposed to be having a conversation with the person in front of you.
The Crazy is blowing off bills because you don’t want to think about them. The Crazy is when you don’t return a friend’s call because having friends now stresses you out. The Crazy is the sense of dread and shame that keeps you from being able to sit and read scripture or pray.
If you come from a high church tradition, you could probably tell me a whole lot about Lent. I know there’s something about fasting and another rule about eating fish. I’m a low church, free church Protestant who happens to think the Liturgical Calendar might be a good idea.
In years past I’ve tried to give up carbs or coffee, to varying degrees of success. If I understand the idea of Lent right, the point is to take time to be penitential and aware of your mortality and therefore our need for Jesus’s resurrection power.
What keeps me from reflecting on mortality or anything else is just The Crazy. There isn’t a switch that turns The Crazy off. What I can do is block out some time and dedicate it to non-Crazy things.
Now, halfway through Lent, I’m taking three steps to give up The Crazy.
1. Make lots of lists.
If you’ve read Getting Things Done then you know that the bulk of the problem is to get things out of your brain and in a list of “next steps.” I start with a “brain dump” where I write everything in a Moleskine. It’s mostly gobbledygook, which I try to then make sense of in a to do list app like Wunderlist.
2. Sacrifice the first hour.
The Crazy causes me to grab for my laptop and start sending emails before I get out of bed. To avoid this, I leave my computer in another room, and have my Clever Coffee Maker and Ninja Smoothie machine prepped the night before. I then dedicate the first hour to studying scripture (right now I’m using N.T. Wright’s Lent for Everyone), prayer and a good breakfast. This means acknowledging that I might have to work late or skip something as a result, which is bad, but better than the crazy.
3. Go to sleep well.
Neuroscientist and theologian Jim Wilder points out that many people go to sleep worrying. This results in spending the night pumping your brain full of the stress hormone cortisol. His suggestion is to spend the moments before you go to sleep taking the time to “feel appreciation.” Use your mind’s eye to remember moments where you felt appreciated, or had an appreciation for someone else. I find that this works hand in hand with the Benedictine tradition of the Prayer of Examen, or “rummaging through the day.”
It would be a lie to say that I’ve beaten The Crazy, but giving it up for Lent has allow me to start fighting back.
How do you keep from losing control to The Crazy?