As a young driver, I allowed my gas tank to get dangerously low. On countless occasions I found myself with the Miles Remaining meter reading zero. It became a game. "How many miles can I drive after the car tells me the tank is empty?" This risky behavior was bound to burn me and it did. In my freshmen year of college, like most students, I took a nap. Problem was, my alarm didn't go off as I turned my ringer to silent. Somehow my body woke me up 5 minutes before practice. I was in such a frenzy that I put my ankle braces on backwards (which admittedly wasn't so rare of an occasion, but I digress). I left my dorm room to find a torrential down pour outside - perfect. I attempted to start the car to find I had no gas. It had been my intent all along to grab one of the community bikes and/or walk to practice if necessary. So I took to foot, showing up 10 minutes late for my work out. I showed up to the gym no better than a wet dog. My coach could knew it was a "one off" occurrence, but that didn't stop the rightful heaping of wind sprints I was served. I was never late. My grandfather taught me that 15 minutes early was actually on time. From this point forward I became even more stringent (in actuality, fearful) when it came to setting alarms, and putting gas in my car. Mid-day naps, especially with practice afterward, were frightening. When I hit the work world and destinations became scattered to unknown locations, necks of the woods where gas stations are few and far between, I took my fear of timeliness a step further, filling up half-full gas tanks when I was passing a station and had a few "extra" minutes. Why not fill up? This morning I realized my process for filling up my gas tank had become broken, an over correction after my college incident. I asked myself, "self, how much time have I wasted in filling up my gas tank when it wasn't necessary?" Non-analytically, my immediate thought was "too damn much." That's the only answer I needed to further question myself on how many things I do during my day that are not out of necessity. Just how much space have I been filling? It's less about quantifying lost time and more about recognizing that over-preparation can crush our productivity and well-being. It is so easy to do a task because we have time to do a task. Just because we have time for a task does not mean it is sensible to do that task in this moment. If we always do tasks when tasks are not truly necessary, we will find our time to take care of ourselves dwindle.
Out of fear that we will not have enough time for ourselves in the future moment, we may fill space in an effort to create space. But no more. Now, with 0 miles left in my tank, I think I should fill up.