Amy Roberts: Rainy days are reminders of my unmindfulness
In the 1980s the Army came out with an ad campaign depicting soldiers loading into an airplane before sunrise, checking their riggings, jumping out of the plane, setting up their gear on the ground, then piling into a tank. As the sun begins to rise, the star of the commercial tips his canteen coffee cup and says good morning to his sergeant. A narrator’s voice tells viewers, “In the Army, we do more before 9 a.m. than most people do all day.” I still question how an ad like that appealed to an 18 year old.
Last weekend, I created my own version of the same ad. It was cold and dreary and doing anything outside grew less and less likely with each furious raindrop. For most people, it was perfect Netflix weather, or a chance to get lost in a good book. For those of us with adult ADHD, being holed up inside all day is a form of torture, which I’ve learned to channel into relentless productivity.
Saturday’s weather provided the perfect opportunity to clean my house, organize the garage, the shed, and the pantry, bathe the dogs, wash and store all the ski clothes, vacuum out the car, and go through every closet and drawer in my home — resulting in a donation pile high enough to require supplemental oxygen. By 11 a.m. I was texting neighbors to see if they needed any help with their laundry. Later, I went into my office to clean and organize the communal work space. I even alphabetized the office supplies. Apparently, rain gives me OCD. There was a brief window when the downpour turned to mere drizzle and I was able to get outside for a quick walk with the dogs. The sidewalk was littered with plump earthworms flooded from their underground dwellings. I spent 20 minutes collecting them and placing them back in the soil. You know you have a strong aversion to boredom when you start rehoming worms.
Suffice it to say, I did more on one rainy day than most people did all winter long.
I have always had a difficult time with stillness and silence. I need a project to devote myself to (which explains a number of the men I’ve dated). Many people have suggested I attempt yoga or meditation. I’ve given them the good old college try. I’m probably the only person in the world whose yoga instructor once told her, “I don’t think this is your jam.”
Being idle is not in my DNA. Instead of listening to my breath or counting my blessings, or just trying to be present in the moment, I fidget. I bite my nails and that reminds me I need a manicure. Then I think about what color I should paint them, which reminds me I need to touch up the paint in my bedroom where I nicked the wall when moving the nightstand. Which reminds me I need to dust the nightstand. And then I wonder if a different nightstand would look better next to my bed. And the next thing you know I’m online shopping for a new bedroom set. My mind is like a browser with 34,831 tabs always open.
When I attempt to practice mindfulness, I am only reminded of everything that needs to be done — from the lightbulbs I need to change to how I can help stop poaching in Africa. I can’t wait to get up and start tackling my to-do list. Which sort of defeats the purpose of meditating.
But the thing is, I like visiting the amusement park in my head. I like being busy. I like working out solutions to problems I didn’t even realize I had. And truth be told, I find meditation and “om” stuff insufferable. I’ve tried and it really isn’t my jam. I might not be very present, but I get things done, and I find fulfillment in that. A peace even. And if that’s the ultimate goal, does it really matter how it’s reached? Can’t we all just be all that we can be in the way that best suits us?
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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