Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Boxes in My Brain

A long time ago, in what I think of as my "Japanese years," I read a little about the Japanese philosophy of wa (group unity, peace, wholeness). Most of it, though interesting, seemed useless to me. But one thing struck me as useful, and has become "mine." It was the concept of putting tasks, chores or responsibilities into imaginative "boxes" in my head.

Today I thought I'd go look that concept up on the internet to refresh my understanding of it. Although I found a huge body of reading on the philosophy of wa, I couldn't find that box concept anywhere! Maybe I made it up!? No matter. It works for me.

Here's how it goes. When life gets hectic, and there seems to be more to accomplish than I have time for, I put every major task into its own imaginary box. Then I put that same task on my calendar, for instance, "weed the back yard" could go on Thursday afternoon. Once it's on the calendar, I close the box and don't look at it again; I just store that box on a "shelf" in my mind. Once I've boxed up and scheduled each task, I use my calendar to find out which box to open each day. I don't worry at all about the other tasks; in fact, I can completely ignore them, for they are silently waiting to be taken from the shelf at their specified times.

I can imagine that you - my friends, family and faithful readers - are thinking, "She's gone daffy on us!" But what this system of thinking does is unclutter my mind. I only have to think about one thing - the task in the open box - while being confident that the other things won't be forgotten, since they are safely stored and scheduled for another time.

I think Jesus would approve of this mental exercise. It seems to be right in line with what he said (Matthew 6:34): "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

And now, it's time to go box up a gaggle of tasks that I want to accomplish before Kelsey and Sweetpea come to visit me in not too many days.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your entire system of "boxes" of thought, organization, and follow through, is most impressive, I think.

My brain seems to be filled with cylinders, all open ended. You empty,useless, cardboard toilet paper rolls.

As soon as a thought enters it simply exits.

And that is not good!

When was I coming to see you?? Oh yes, next week.