Reflection Work

The Fantasy of an Uninterrupted Life

Liked The Imperfectionist: What is an ‘interruption’, anyway? (

living my life with a strong emphasis on eliminating interruptions makes interruptions feel more disruptive when they happen; and it causes more things to get defined as interruptions.

I really benefit from chunks of time working, where I can focus and make progress. Cave Day has been a huge help to me, as well as the Pomodoro Technique. I have a hard time recovering from distraction and getting back to what I was doing before. I also find it challenging mentally to shift tasks at someone else’s prompting, my residual attention still glued to the previous thing. But, I see his point.

I think many of us spend years on end viewing our whole lives – that is, the things we’re actually doing with our days – as one extended interruption from the things we’re really supposed to be doing with them.

I think he’s onto something here. I feel like I have had expectations on myself on the past that made me feel worse: I felt like I was wasting away my life in a full time job instead of wandering the world in my twenties, and would also get upset at all the demands on my life keeping me from writing. There is some validity to these perspectives but they weren’t honoring my choice of stability over adventure. It comes back to the “should” mentality which isn’t helpful.

I can sometimes get frustrated when I want to spend a chunk of time on writing but life things pop up that call for more urgent attention. But I’ve been trying to plan for one working block a week at least dedicated to dealing with health care and home management. The business of life.

As I always do 😉, I see a connection here with the capitalist obsession with productivity and output over experience and relationships. As he gives as an example, family becomes a distraction when they take your attention from what you’re making.

I encountered a startling passage in a book by the Zen teacher Shinshu Roberts, based on the work of the Buddhist scholar Dogen, who taught, Roberts explains, “that nothing obstructs the activity of anything else” – things never get in each other’s way.

(Emphasis mine.)

I like this. So many things are how you react to them, and a layer of meta you place stop them, when they simply are.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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