I’m not being productive unless I’m feeling overwhelmed. Usually I don’t do much. Then I’ll have a burst of activity. Then the energy will run out, and I’ll find myself overcommitted. & then I retract from my commitments, rest, then feel ashamed of how little I do, and start the cycle over. I’ve never learned how to surf, but an analogy suggests itself:
In between active periods, I’m just afloat. A wave will cross me, I’ll swing with its motion, and return to my original starting point. Likewise a new interest will come up under me, and carry me with it for a limited period of time, and then it passes and I am back where I started. This is the normal state of things: rest, ride, retreat, repeat.
Then a wave of energy approaches (I can feel it coming across the calendar), and I start to gather myself up: I sign up for more activities, I plan to start new habits, I acquire responsibilities. The wave comes, I’m on top of it; the best part of the feeling is the power I have. I can do anything, and I can take anything. The feeling of infinite adjustment: I have room in my time for whatever new might come along, and any jar that comes along I can translate into a pleasing bump in my schedule; accidental becomes intentional.
The wave comes down eventually – it runs out of room underneath, and brings me down with it, or in it. The bouyant forward motion that sustained me before begins to push at me from all sides, with no coherent progress that I can perceive. I’m suspended in chaos by contrary motions. (And I get sand and salt in my mouth and eyes.)
When the wave is done with me, I’m deposited, exhausted, on dry land. Little waves of energy come and go but don’t move me. (They sort of tickle.)
Later, what remains with me, both in what I’ve produced and what I remember, tends to be the period of falling and unwilling abandonment to too much from too many sides. The fear and loss of control make it exhilarating, in a different, less pleasant way from the feeling of gathering power that comes on the crest of the wave, but more true, in a way I fail to express adequately.