A fish will wait. Letting the current from the running filter nudge it to the left. I was in a Greek restaurant in Astoria, called Elias Corner FOR FISH. The walls were blue and the entire front had been left from the daily workings of an office, with papers overflowing on the tables. The place was so old and established that it felt like you were walking into a fisherman’s kitchen. There were shining dead mackerel and St. Peter and white fish icing on one side of the narrow entrance, and on the other, were hefty goldfish, so big they must have been ten years old. They explored their tank thoughtfully. They say fish have a three second memory. Each time they go from one side of the tank to the next is another epic journey. So they just wait there in the flow as they try to remember the directions.
By nature we flail. In the water, I mean. Did you think I meant in life? In the water we flail, our arms and legs up and out and around. But we’re not like fish, and we’re not like turtles. We must breath and we don't have paddle-hands, so swimming becomes a dance between water and air. The key lies in the gracefulness of this rhythm.
Imagine if we were to rethink the way in which we work, and how we manage effort. Would if we thought about work as an opportunity to work less rather than work more. To focus on the quality of the outcome rather than the speed at which it gets done. That proud belief in martyrdom: that you have worked the hardest, and completed the most of X projects, while in fact you have just burned yourself out.
The martyrdom complex is trying to compensate for a certain kind of mentality that
1. Does not believe in the quality of your own hand.
2. Does not trust that people will step up and help you.
3. Is selfishly wanting of the credit for the work done, even if desiring pity or winning someone’s favor by working yourself to the bone.
This is a waste of time and a form of disrespect to yourself and your colleagues.
I am the worst at this, holding a long-standing belief that one day I will fashion a gown, and the gown will be like water. I have a million astounding ideas, each project taken on with greater enthusiasm. Example being: I have set pins in about 10 fabrics that would become water-like gowns that will be completed one day. But for now they lie in my closet like unworn tuna skins. The bottom line was that I needed to let these dresses go and learn about the essence of work. If you stop and start to feel the nudge then you’ll know what the right direction is.
Imagine that you are without the work that you do. Imagine that you can be without exhaustion or self-judgment. Imagine work is a byproduct of your desire to move, of your need to complete a task. Like a swimmer’s practice, it’s not like you stop working. The value lies in the practice of efficiency between body and mind, as a result of your balance, alignment and, core strength (inner or abbular - pun intended) that propels you forward. You keep the vessel tight, lower the head, feel the movement of the body and, most importantly, love the water. Then there is a nudge and you’ll know the direction to take.