So many of my inventures are about the endless quest to get on top of things in my life. Or, if not on top of them, at least not pinned to the floor by their weight. Y’know?
I picture people who are good at life like this: they are gardeners of all their responsibilities and enthusiasms. They wander the greenhouse, watering, tending, pulling a weed here and there. Probably humming something annoying like Frère Jacques.
I can’t do that.
Correction: I’m working on that.
Every time I step into the greenhouse of my life, I’m a different person from the time before. And none of these colorful characters are all-rounders, I’m sorry to say. They all have stuff they’re passionate about, but they don’t care about anything else.
Increasingly, my life is calling on me to be able to keep more than one thing alive at the same time. People, for instance. A career, for example. And I don’t really know how to do it.
So, my inventure is to figure out how to teach each of my different selves to play well with others.
Note: I’m not talking about a pathological issue here (like dissociative identity disorder, which is devastating and debilitating). But this also isn’t exactly a metaphor. I really do experience myself as selves, and there are a bunch of us in here.
Let me introduce you to a few:
She has sixteen lists of what needs to get done before lunch, including Montessori sensory activities and making fairy potions from flowers in the woods. Please don’t interrupt Mom while she’s momming; she is very serious about this and will not hesitate to cut a bitch.
Mom owns an industrial sized label maker and isn’t afraid to use it.
All she cares about is writing. She has a garret and she devotes herself only to her work, day and night. She has one foot in this world and another in the one she’s inventing. She is ethereal and vague. She misplaces pairs of glasses in the space-time continuum and they reappear in her pockets as teaspoons.
The Social One
Perhaps the most hated of all the Rowans, this person gets on Bumble BFF and messages 13 women about play dates or brunch. She makes a lot of promises the rest of us can’t keep.
She knows intuitively that she’s just a fragment of the universe experiencing itself subjectively within a holographic reality. In white linen and a full lotus, she drifts loose in time and space, at one with all that is and was and will ever be. She consumes only air and the last remaining fragments of her own ego. Her skin is flawless.
Nothing can stop her. She’s creative, driven and flourishes in a fast-paced, high-stress environment. Her online offerings are world class. Her website emphasizes the user experience. Her PayPal buttons are fully functional. Her Zoom subscription is up to date. She enjoys scheduling meetings.
Monosyllabic and flatulent, Tired Lady just can’t. She microwaves frozen fish sticks and peas for her family and mutters through gritted teeth things like, “Have you tried asking Google that question?” and “I cannot provide you with more information than I have.” She spurns bras and her religion is scrolling.
They’re all me, and they’re all welcome (except sometimes that social one, ugh). I just don’t know how to inhabit them all in a day. And since Mom came along, I generally have to be able to access at least two of them.
Usually I shift between these modes around once every few weeks. When I make a shift, my priorities follow. I can’t seem to care about what the previous incarnation cared about.
In Parts Psychology (also known as Internal Family Systems Therapy), the parts of ourselves that have separated out from our core Self are encouraged to re-integrate. And that’s what I have to do right now.
Lila’s starting preschool this week, so Mom is extremely busy making labels and researching nutritious lunchbox fillings (true story). Writer Woman is getting limbered up to start Book 2. Spiritual Chick’s soul yearns for a consistent morning practice. The Entrepreneur is sniffing around for a side hustle.
Tired Lady just wants to go off-duty for a couple of weeks. She’s earned it.
So that’s the challenge. How to flit between selves in a day so that I can move forward on all these things? How to care about more than one thing at a time?
I have some practical ideas I’m going to try, but it would be so cool to discover a knack for it.
Has anyone figured it out?
This article originally appeared on Rowan’s Wild Inventures substack newsletter. To subscribe and get all Rowan’s posts in your inbox, head over to Wild Inventures on substack now.
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