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  • Writer's pictureShana Ritter

What to do in order to contain the pulls and pushes of to do lists and have tos that have nothing to


I think about the notion of compartmentalization. Cordoning off aspects of my life into sections fenced neatly off one from the other. It seems like a practical solution. Create a blocked schedule. Write for two hours, phone off, email obscured. Then tend to Foundation work, books put away, phone and social media in the forefront, then, friends and family, household and garden. It sounds easy enough – but I don’t work quite like that.

I have never been one to create a careful list, budget time or money. Though I don’t overspend and I rarely miss a deadline, the world does not separate into columns for me, there are no neat lines or dividers, rather there are country gardens, constellations, creeks and lakes feeding in and out of each other.

I think about a tree. The roots pull from the soil created over the years fed by home, family, experience, learning, meditation, convictions. The trunk is the daily practice, the doing. The branches are the outcomes; a poem, an event for the foundation, two more pages down on the book. But like any growing thing I am shaped by the climate around me – the wind, or rain, the sun – so that certain branches leaf out more, or become more worn, or need more care.

When I was younger and the weight of years lay in the future I knew some things would expand more easily during certain seasons, but could imagine how in the long run it would all balance out. But now time no longer seems so infinite, at least not mine. I hope for many years yet, but the years past are many more than the ones ahead. I cannot leave things to the natural bend of days. I will have to do my own shaping.

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