I had to plan around it on distance days. I’d get ready in the cool of the morning, filling my water pack, putting trail mix and cookies in my fanny pack, reloading the backup battery and connector for my phone, choosing an audio book that would last four hours, applying sunblock, and starting my GPS tracker. When I came back from running as many as seventeen miles, I wouldn’t have much energy. If I let myself sit down before eating something, I was in trouble. I had to resist it for at least long enough to take a shower and eat Second Lunch. What was waiting for me was The Plunk.
I would plunk down on the couch and more or less melt into the cushions. I’d become a sentient pillow. I would be exactly like my dog, who comes back from a run and drops onto the tiles, legs splayed out in every direction. He can run six miles and be asleep four minutes later. Most of us aren't sleep experts like Spike, but we certainly feel that same urge to plunk.
Everyone should plunk sometimes. It’s a good thing. Everyone should have a safe and peaceful place to relax completely and forget the cares of the world. I especially recommend the group plunk. My pets are enthusiastic supporters of this system. We all signal that it’s time and the plunk is here. The apes read a book, the dog sleeps, and the parrot preens and cleans every single feather, which is a lot of feathers indeed. We reinforce each other’s sense that the world has paused for a little while, and none of us are going anywhere until those pages are turned, those sleeping paws are twitching, and all the feathers are in the correct place.
The trouble is that the plunk doesn’t work properly when anything important is left undone. It’s impossible to blend into the upholstery properly when a nagging thought lingers in the mind. Open loops are the enemy of the plunk. I may be pretending to plunk, I may be attempting the plunk, I may be making my best effort to set a new plunking record. It’s not going to happen if I’m really spinning my mental wheels over something I know I should have done.
The key to plunking properly is peace of mind. That starts with eliminating the most important task early each day. I have to recognize resistance in myself and crush it. Anything that makes me dread taking action is automatically the most important thing of the day. Anything that gives me a feeling of extreme reluctance, exhaustion, anxiety, disgust, annoyance, or desire to enter the Witness Protection Program and change my name? That’s the thing I have to do. I know I can never get a decent plunk if I’m stewing over something that serious in my life.
The other key to a truly satisfying plunk has to do with situational awareness. I can’t plunk right if the room is in disarray. Entropy is the heart’s desire of the universe. It’s possible we were given free will, language, and the ability to use tools specifically to combat entropy in our personal environment. I want to be able to look around at a glance and see that all is well. I know where to find my keys, phone, sunglasses, wallet, and shoes, even though I won’t be needing them for a while. I can’t see any unfinished work. I don’t have a stack of unsorted mail. I don’t have a pile of unfolded laundry. I know from long experience that my life is easier when I spend the requisite fifteen minutes a day putting away laundry, five minutes sorting and processing the mail, and sixty seconds collecting my Important Daily Items. That stuff is done, and therefore, I can plunk freely.
The final plunk of the day happens after the sun goes down. It’s bedtime. It starts with the Fluffy One, who starts getting edgy at 8:00 PM. She needs twelve hours of beauty sleep, and nobody is plunking when she starts calling for bedtime, that’s for sure. Our little woofie insists on getting his teeth brushed. Another day is done. We know it’s time to wind up shop for the night. Start the dishwasher, check the locks, turn out the lights, floss and brush, and go to bed. A steady routine helps prevent those sit-straight-up, facepalm moments of forgetting important details. A few minutes of attention to a list of habits is reassuring and comforting. We can lay our weary heads down on our pillows and drift off into the ultimate plunk, knowing we’ve done everything that was asked of us for the day. Time to rest and spend a few hours in the land of dreams, where the cares of earthly life are not allowed to enter and don’t technically exist.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.