An Ironic Twist on Productivity and a Lesson Learned

I’ve mentioned once or twice that I was recently diagnosed with a blood condition called polycythemia vera. I won’t go into the details of the disorder, but I will tell you one basic fact: My body has become over-productive. The bone marrow is producing too many blood cells, particularly red cells. There’s some irony here.

Being a poet, this diagnosis has got me to thinking about metaphors of abundance. We love to consider abundance a good thing. People talk about productivity as if it’s God himself. But sometimes too much is bad. Overproduction can kill you. Ask me, I know. Hopefully it’s going to take 30 years, but…

The Irony of Abundance

I recently harvested some grapes in my back yard. There were way too many for my daughter and me. I shared them at work. The platter runneth over. In the end, grapes rotted and were thrown away. But overabundance can be much worse. One weed can spread hundreds of seeds and take over acres upon acres. One tree-eating bug can multiply and wipe out an entire forest. Abundance and production are not always good.

So what’s this have to do with successful habits for life? Everything. When you work too hard you’ll likely pay for it in the long run. The irony of my blood disorder is twofold:

  1. It’s mirroring my life: I may not have made millions of dollars, but I’ve produced a crapload over the last 20 years. I’ve written nearly 1000 songs and hundreds of poems. I’ve written six books in the last six years alone. I’ve kept up with two blogs and started and eliminated several others. All the while, I’ve been working as a college teacher, raising a child, and exercising regularly. It’s almost as if my body has mirrored my own actions, producing more and more.
  2. It’s mocking my life: I’ve written a lot about minimalism. I’ve learned to live relatively simple and I love the idea of simplifying even more. Less. But now my body says: More. I’m a walking contradiction.

I’m Not Saying My Lifestyle Caused My PV, But…

There’s a lesson to be learned. Working yourself too hard is not the answer. I know some of you want to become financially successful. However, money isn’t everything. Don’t push yourself to the point of exhaustion. Abundance can backfire on you. Productivity can become your enemy.

I consider my own situation and laugh at the irony. Although, I wouldn’t have chosen blood cancer, I have it now. So I’ll work to eliminate what my body over-produces. Yes, that means therapeutical phlebotomies. But I’m not sure I’ll slow down at being productive myself. It’s in my blood… literally. However, I will be more intentional about what I produce.

Looking Forward to 2019

  1. Archiving Hip Diggs: I put out a call for guest posts in an attempt to keep Hip Diggs running into 2019. Although I’ve received a few takers, I don’t see enough interest to keep it going. So I’ll likely be archiving Hip Diggs. That means it will always be available, but I won’t be continuing to post there. I may even make the archive a subdomain of this site next year.
  2. Continuing Dan Erickson: I’ll be continuing this site as Simple Habits for Life. I hope to begin offering some courses, but I won’t create courses at the expense of more important things. My creative side is actually my greatest love, so if that overrides courses, so be it.
  3. More focus on music and poetry: This is what I do. It’s who I truly am. So I’ll be continuing to write poetry at Cowboy Zen. I also hope to begin performing live as a singer-songwriter in the near future. I’ve even purchased the domain for future use. More fictional writing may also be on the drawing board.

I encourage you to evaluate your own lives, your own productivity. Don’t be over-productive. Limit yourself. Experiment to discover your greatest passions and talents and focus on those things. Life is short. Do what you love and do it well.

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