My Sandboxed Life

"Is the life you're living worth the price you're paying for it?" —Quote from a Managing Your Energy class I recently took

If you bear with me on a ridiculously technical metaphor, this post will count as two credits toward your Geek 101 terminology education.

I live my life in sandboxes. Not the kind you find at a playground or in someone's fancy backyard (though I'm sure there are applicable metaphors in those too). Sandboxes as in computer security. Huh? I said bear with me! I'll tell you what that means in a minute.

Universe (to Me): How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You?! Go to Your Room. And Don't Come Out Until you Learn to Slow Down

I had a moment two weeks ago when I threw my hands up in the air and literally shouted "What do you want from me Universe?! I'm listening!" On a random Wednesday after finishing a few coaching sessions, I suddenly found myself curled miserably on the floor of a conference room at work. There I was, lying on my back after almost fainting 15 minutes earlier. I felt like I was going to throw-up just from sitting up to pick up the phone to cancel my next meeting. Sexy, I know. Almost as sexy as the eye twitch I'd been rocking that week.

You can probably see where this is going. I was feeling overworked and my body was worn-out. Because I had done nothing to change that, my body and the universe had been (and maybe still are?) in cahoots to keep smacking me upside the head until I started listening.

I've felt this way before. After I posted "Motivated by Achievement: A Blessing or a Curse?" one friend emailed to tell me she had the feeling I was like a house of cards ready to crumble. Ouch! That hurt, but only because I had a feeling she might be right; her statement was something worth looking at.

So what is a sandbox and how does it relate to my life (and maybe yours)?

After reflecting on what it means to slow down (something I generally have no concept of or capability for), I realized that I live my life in a carefully manicured, structured, sandboxed existence. What is a sandbox? From Wikipedia:

In computer security, a sandbox is a security mechanism for separating running programs. It is often used to execute untested code, or untrusted programs from unverified third-parties, suppliers and untrusted users.

The sandbox typically provides a tightly-controlled set of resources for guest programs to run in, such as scratch space on disk and memory. Network access, the ability to inspect the host system or read from input devices are usually disallowed or heavily restricted.

If my life is like a computer, then my time and activities are like carefully sandboxed programs. Every aspect gets a set amount of resources, all separated and fenced in, not allowed to interact with each other. Everything has a place, and that place does not change from week to week. I have set times for working out, for eating meals, for working, for blogging, for walking my dog, and even for having fun.

Do you know when I give myself the freedom to have fun just for the sake of fun? Saturday afternoons. Weeknights (including Fridays) are for rest, Saturday nights are for friends, and Sunday nights are for work. It's exactly the same every week unless I'm traveling. And I wonder why I'm not dating! Apparently I left the dating sandbox out altogether.

Take me to the beach!

"At the beach, life is different. Time doesn't move hour to hour but mood to moment. We live by the currents, plan by the tides and follow the sun." −Unknown

I want more room to breathe. I want to loosen the reigns a little bit. I want to slow down, and even though I don't know how (and the thought of letting go of anything terrifies me a little bit), I want to.

I want to create more space in my life for ME. To just be me. And room for someone else to be there with me - without feeling like they are restricted to an assigned sandbox of my life.

I have no idea how to do this. But I'm saying it out loud. When it comes to slowing down and creating space, I'm committing to doing the best I can. Or not doing. I think that's actually the whole point.

Or as Andrew Norcross said, "instead of having a bunch of sandboxes, just go to the beach."