Bank The Coals For Tomorrow’s Efforts

Sometimes, on a day that is busy beyond measure, I find myself settling down at my computer to write a blog post with the thought tumbling through my head that, maybe, this would be a good day to skip this exercise. I am frequently full of eloquent and entirely reasonable justifications for why it would best for my mental health and physical well-being to skip a day. I constantly remind myself that I can always make up for lost time by writing an additional post some day in the future, when I have the energy to spare, or that I could simply allow myself to skip a day since there is no reason not to take days of rest when I feel the need. “Rest,” I tell myself, “and you will be better prepared for whatever comes your way tomorrow.”

At the same time, I shoot back that habits only stay habits if you put in the effort to maintain them. That there is value in spending some time recording my thoughts. There is even rest and restoration in it, if I cleave to my principles to only write blog posts that give me something back through the process of their creation. I know that giving myself too many breaks is a recipe for my discipline to fall apart. I know that I may not feel better rested for days or even weeks. There are no guarantees that tomorrow will be better or that I will feel better, as much as I might hope otherwise. Better to work with what I have, accomplish what I can, now rather than wait until later.

Typically, discipline and effort win out. I’ve long coped with stress by keeping myself busy. That coping mechanism has been relegated to the junk heap as I’ve worked to have a better relationship with work and rest, but it still shows through in small ways. I tend to do my best to spend all my energy every day rather than leaving something in the tank. It’s not like I can ever get extra energy by leaving some to carry over. This isn’t a cell phone data plan, it’s my general inability to sleep well and rest completely.

I am careful in those moments, though. Careful not to over-exert myself because that level of exhaustion definitely carries over. Overexertion can follow me for days or even weeks as I struggle to reclaim my habits from my inability to focus and wind up stunting my recovery by pushing myself just a little bit too hard. I work slowly, taking pauses as my mind wanders away from my tasks, recognizing it as the rise and fall of effort and rest as I slowly complete whatever it was I never got around to. A blog post, usually. Like this one.

It is a careful thing, this effort. Small steps. Tentatively pushing away at whatever work needs doing. Sometimes it is unloading the dishwasher and I just put away the cups before allowing myself to be distracted by my podcast. Sometimes it is folding my remaining laundry and I take care of all the socks but leave my t-shirts until tomorrow. I am practiced at this, at banking the coals that remain from my day’s fuel, so that I can get every bit of heat out of them but still have something left to light tomorrow’s fire.

Tomorrow will be another day, carrying with it whatever trials and tribulations may come. I may struggle to start the day as I so frequently do in these days of lingering grey skies and depleted fuel, but I will not be held back by what I could not accomplish today. I will be able to wake up and, if nothing else, congratulate myself on having achieved every single one of my goals today.

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