How to Throw a Wrench in the Works
Depending on your age and where you're from, you may not be familiar with the idiom of throwing a wrench into the works. It basically means to disrupt a system or a process.
This expression has an interesting origin; apparently it originated with textile workers in the 1800s. Because they were concerned that weaving machines might take over their jobs and make those same humans obsolete, the workers deliberately threw spanners (a specific type of wrench) into "the works" of the weaving machines in order to damage or destroy them.
So what could throwing a wrench in the works mean for you? And which works are we talking about?
I've started a new early morning routine of getting out for a half hour walk before I begin my day. The early morning breeze, the birds singing, the lushness of almost-summer is too delicious to pass up.
I feel so much lighter and more ready to meet whatever the day has in store for me when I can do this.
But I digress. Back to appropriating the term for our purposes.
We all have our routines and that includes me, too. I can easily get caught up in the daily activities of getting things done, crossing off items on my to-do list.
I can easily forget that if I'm not fully present to what I'm doing, I could easily miss a lot of the good stuff - including creative inspiration or a fresh perspective - that life is continually offering me.
So for me, throwing a wrench in the works is my way of disrupting (or at least postponing or minimizing) the "system" of getting lost in the activities that I tell myself I need to get done.
And depending on where that need comes from, it may indeed be necessary to get stuff done.
Nothing wrong with that.
But if I get lost or caught up in the "system" of daily living as most of us know it, my world gets very small - as if I'm wearing blinders, like the kind horses wear so they can't see what's things going on around them.
Our culture puts so much emphasis on doing and being productive - continuously cranking it out with precious little down time to refresh and renew ourselves. I've heard so many people talk about being exhausted, burned out, stressed out, zoned out, languishing...
What are our options?
When I find myself caught up in that system of "just get it done, done right and done now," I've come to realize that I'm inadvertently cheating myself out taking the kind of care of myself that lets me breathe when my breathing is shallow.
Or lets my mind settle when it's too full of thoughts.
Or lets my body release tension and contraction in my muscles, all the way down to my bones.
When I don't take the time to notice my felt experience and respond to that, my life gets set up just like one of those weaving machines that has the potential to make my human-ness, my spirit, obsolete.
And at the end of the day, is that really what I want for myself? No.
And I don't think you do, either.
It's not hard at all to recognize when your bodymind is hitting overload. But giving yourself permission to take stock and take care of yourself may be another matter.
When we're conditioned to keep going without taking a breather, we become stale, repetitive, estranged from the flow of creative energy that moves through us, and most importantly, for us.
Let me be your personal permission granter to first of all notice when you need it and secondly, take care of yourself right then and there.
It won't necessarily mean you stop everything you're doing, but then again it might.
Sometimes a simple stretch or a deep breath or getting up from the desk, even turning your gaze away from the computer to look out the window to become aware of what else is going on in the world can be the gateway to inner freedom and relaxation.
And Heaven knows, we could all use more of that.
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