On breadcrumbs & basket weaving (aka Life Experiment #4)

Young bird

So if you think I haven’t been blogging as much: you’re right.

Over the past few weeks, my personal Plan B Nation has become an increasingly busy place, and while that’s mainly a very good thing, it’s also entailing some readjustments and recalibrations.

As you may have read, last month’s Life Experiment—taking a photo everyday as I learned to use my new digital camera—came to an abrupt end only days after it began.  I realized I simply couldn’t add another thing to my plate. While at first I saw this as a failure (bad!), I ended up realizing that it was doing what any good experiment should: Giving me useful information.

In that spirit, I’m taking this month’s Life Experiment in a somewhat different direction. Instead of focusing on an activity, I’ll be playing with metaphor and shifting perspective.

I recently wrote about how I’m trying to bring more playfulness into my life—to still get things done but to have more lightness in the doing.  For much of my foray in Plan B Nation, Getting Things Done has felt like accomplishment enough. On some days simply getting out of bed felt like a pretty big deal.

But lately, I’ve come to wonder if things have to feel so grim. In particular, I’ve been thinking about the role of metaphor. Which brings me to breadcrumbs and basket weaving, aka Life Experiment #4.

On Breadcrumbs . . .

Instead of marching through a to-do list, I’m a bird following bread crumbs.  Breadcrumbs are: Nourishing.  A bird doesn’t order itself to follow a trail of breadcrumbs. That comes naturally. A trail of breadcrumbs invites you on. You don’t have to think about it.

I’ve been playing with this over the past few weeks, and I like how it’s feeling.  Looking for the next breadcrumb is way better than pushing myself to Be More Productive.

and basket weaving

Another big challenge has been feeling that I’m moving in too many different directions. By nature and habit, I go for depth rather than for breadth. I like to focus on one thing, to give it my full attention.

Of course, that isn’t always possible—it isn’t for me right now—so I’ve been mulling over how I can keep doing lots of things but feel a little less stressed. The answer, at least for now, seems to be basket weaving.

Instead of seeing life as pulling me in disparate conflicting directions, I’m thinking of my various activities as strands in a single  basket. The challenge is weaving them together. The challenge is creating a whole. What I was viewing as a source of stress has become a creative project.

Which isn’t to say that I really like being all this busy. I’m hoping (expecting) that by April’s end, things will have settled down. In the meantime, I plan to do what I can to hold the situation lightly—to follow the trail of breadcrumbs and practice basket weaving.

Note: My interest in how metaphor can shape experience was sparked by The Fluent Self‘s Havi Brooks–if you’re interested in reading more, she’s written loads on the topic.

Basket Weaving

© 2012, amy gutman. All rights reserved.

8 thoughts on “On breadcrumbs & basket weaving (aka Life Experiment #4)

  1. Way late to the party here, but wow — thanks for the basket weaving metaphor. There are pieces of my life that definitely feel separate right now and it’s really taking a toll on me. I crave unity and connection. I either need to change those mismatched pieces for ones that resonate, or I need to start thinking “basket weaving.”

  2. Have you ever considered amending a month’s life experiment and at the last minute? Even if no, perhaps a reader or two might be interested. Go here:

    http://30daysofbiking.com/story/

    Click “register” if you’re up to task. If you want to save the planet and stuff, you’ve got to do something. I’m in. This should be fun.
    Snakebite recently posted…Upcoming, And, Up And ComingMy Profile

  3. What a great metaphor — the basket weaving — for the work of trying to hold all these different efforts and parts of our lives together. I send you encouragement. This will be a good month.
    cathy recently posted…in the garden, almost spring…My Profile

    • Thanks, Cathy! It’s been a good touchstone for me–when I’m feeling frazzled, I just silently repeat “basket weaving” & things seem to settle down–I can more easily see what strand I’m working with and what needs to come next.
      amy gutman recently posted…Why follow-through is overratedMy Profile

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