All Hat and No Rabbit

This is the metaphor that comes to mind for how I’ve felt trying to get back to work after the holiday weekend: I step happily onto the stage in the spotlight, smiling energetically, promising something astonishing as I show my empty top hat. With confident flair, I reach into the hat to pull out a fluffy bunny—but it’s not there. I know it should be, I know it’s been there before, but for some reason this time I can’t find the rabbit no matter how deep I reach.

Still from Pixar's "Presto"“Presto” via Pixar/Disney

Long holiday weekends like the one we just had are always a welcome opportunity for rest, and stepping away from the office to not think about work for a while is healthy. It’s a forced reset of my brain, a chance to let things go for a while. But the downside is that it’s easy to lose momentum on building a routine, as new habits are hard to return to when work resumes.

Only a few days away from it, and suddenly I’ve lost my routine, but I feel the audience out there in the dark, waiting, and I’m holding an impractical hat with no rabbit. I had energy and confidence and felt ready to dive back in. But I’m not just re-acquiring a routine, I’m re-building it. I’ve been adding things, re-configuring the order and accommodating the changes in priorities, and it was working. And now I’m left feeling like the rabbit is just toying with me.

So what else can I do? I know I’ve got some other magic I can rely on, so maybe the best thing to do is forget about pulling a rabbit out of a hat today. Skip that trick, set it aside and come back to it when the confidence is back. Return to the basics, the card tricks I know backward and forward, like the one that’s so simple one of my favorite magicians can do it slogged on painkillers after having his wisdom teeth removed:

So I’ll do that, and prove to myself that I’m not completely lost. And when I’m confident again, and I remember where I left that rabbit, maybe tomorrow, I’ll be able to pull it out of my hat.

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