More from the series of “I’m publishing stuff I wrote but didn’t publish”. This was from November 2013.
Sleep deprived. Contemplative. I find myself thinking about people. Specifically, the people I have coexisted with in some way, family not included. It’s strange what lingers in the mind, little random facts. What cigarette somebody smoked. A comment somebody left on an old livejournal. All these seemingly random snapshots of a life. I’m feeling pretty sentimental.
It’s almost sad how arbitrarily my brain attributes meaning. What matters, and what doesn’t? Memories aren’t retrieved, they’re reconstructed. Why do I reconstruct the things that I do?
I don’t know, of course. But what convenient explanation am I likely to construct?
I need to sleep but I can’t so I’ll just vomit until I find myself falling asleep. Vomit by the way simply means to spew forth, it doesn’t necessarily have to involve the gastric variety. See also: misconception about roman vomitoriums.
I was feeling wistful and sentimental today, which I resolved largely by having casual Whatsapp conversations with a couple of friends. I had initially wanted to channel that anxious energy into writing, but I was tired and sleep-deprived and maybe I just don’t quite feel the burn.
This is a constant concern for me (especially because it ISN’T a constant concern for me. So meta.) My boss has reminded me on several occasions that I have a terribly lax attitude when it comes to deadlines. He asks “how come alarms don’t go off in your head?”
It’s a good question. This seems to be a deep rooted complex and systematic problem that I have that runs deep into my brain. It’s simple from the outside, the way depression is a simple problem- “you just need to cheer up”. It’s a messy convoluted problem that’s extensive and multifaceted. And I think I want to solve it. I think I’ve spent a lot of time and energy waffling around claiming that I want to solve it, perhaps even at the expense of actually solving it. A part of me clearly doesn’t want it solved- and I literally have to drag that part of me out of myself and destroy it.
Destruction always feels like a cruel, merciless thing. It’s so easy to romanticize your inner saboteur. He’s the joker to your batman. How can you kill him? What would you do without him? Well… you don’t know. And the unknown is always frightening. You know that the first few steps beyond the Cave are excruciating, so you need a really good plan if you want to escape it for good. No ten step program is really going to dig deep and strike the heart of the problem.
The heart of hearts, the most fundamental root that I cannot leave unaddressed, the flag I have to capture and then consecrate and guard and secure with all my being and all the external and situational help I can get: is to decide that I want the Saboteur dead. No compromise. I have to crush him with great cruelty. Inaction is crueler. I have made similar decisions on maybe two occasions- deciding that a friendship was toxic, and deciding to quit smoking. In both cases it involved driving a dagger into the heart of something that I had associated positive feelings with, that I cherished and felt good about, that were a part of my identity.
These baby steps give me hope- I’ve never been good at first principles, I operate primarily through analogy- and these parallel experiences tell me that 1, it can be done, and 2, I will ultimately be happier for it. And happiness is worth fighting for. Even if it’s not happiness- I will be more productive, I will be a more useful member of society, and that’s worth fighting for. I will be richer and have more freedom, and that’s worth fighting for. Above all else, though, it will be INTERESTING- and within the context of a limited and arguably meaningless life-I think interestingness is with fighting for.
Happier, more useful to the world- I want to be useful, remember? One of my innermost epiphany realizations- I want to be useful. Freedom. (Wealth is options, so time is wealth, health is wealth, and wealth is freedom). Interesting. I love my life when I’m exploring my curiosity.
So on one hand we have a life that’s meh, unhappy, miserable, frustrating, boring, beholden, useless, wasteful. Constant firefighting, running and hiding. On the other, a life that is interesting, useful, bright, compelling, challenging, rich. Growth, learning and building.
The difference is the presence of the saboteur in the first, and his absence in the latter. It’s a toxic relationship that I have to do away with for my own sanity and health (the chronic stressors of ceaseless firefighting are horrible for health in the long run).
So the decision is clear and I have to keep it clear. I have to write this out and tape it to my table at work, and on my walk at home. This is the central struggle of my life thus far- my quest for heroism made me seek out external enemies to conquer, but the only enemy is within, and he benefits from my slovenly attitude. He thrives in the dark recesses of my mind, and withers away under scrutiny. The challenge is to maintain that scrutiny at a daily level. I’ve literally spent 9 months talking about this- I meet the boss for a chat every 2 weeks, which means I’ve met him about 18 times, and this is what we discuss every single time. It’s goddamn boring and an huge insult to his limited time. It’s freaking daycare. If I get this out of the way we can move on to rocket science (or whetever comes before).
The saboteur knows that no other human can spend all their time and energy watching me. Everybody’s got their own life to worry about. He also assumes that I won’t do anything about it- that I’m a willing accomplice to his bullshit. He calls my bluff. He knows my weaknesses. He knows I’ll give in after a while. He appeals to my “ah fuck it, life is never going to be more than this anyway” side. You live, you die, why bother?
Fuck you saboteur. Life is precious as hell so I AM going to bother. I quit smoking because I hated the damage it was doing to my mouth, teeth, body, face. I started to see the chains. It’s the same with the saboteur, only the damage is psychological. I don’t want to live in fear and anxiety and guilt. 20 years is more than enough. I refuse to continue to be this way into my 30s. I should resolve this shit before I’m 25 and then spend my years helping others out of the same mess, and together we can achieve wonders. And sleep a blissful, happy sleep. And die with a smile at a life well lived.
Ok so it’s clear. The saboteur has to die. No wavering on this anymore. No if, no but, no romanticizing. He’s a dead man, he just doesn’t know it yet. The clock is ticking.
Now I have to draw up battle plans. A straight up 1-1 fight won’t achieve anything. He knows me better than I do- the subconscious is wiser and better informed than the conscious, has more bandwidth, more power. I’m a small team of noobs against a vast uncaring ediface. I need a plan. I have limited resources so I need to focus all my time and energy into delivering a knockout punch of some sort, at some scale. I have to figure out some semblance of a weak spot and cut him where he bleeds heavily.
Alternatively, I have to sneak away from his presence. I have to make a drastic adjustment to my working style. Just as I deactivated Facebook and left my smoker circle of friends, I will have to go dark. Yes. I cannot attempt to fight him on his battlefield- I have lost the battle of wills every time. He’s stronger. I cannot let him move at all. I’m writing this on my smartphone. Maybe I’ll do my work writing on my smartphone too. Why the fuck not? I can’t afford to pretend I know anything at all about doing battle with this sonovabitch. He fucks with my head. I can’t use my gut feeling- he’s tampered with it, corrupted it. Tainted.
What do I have then? I have to fight with my “eyes” closed. I have to remove my personal agency from the equation. I have to study the evidence.
What does the evidence suggest? I write in vast quantities when I’m offline, with pen+paper or my evernote app on my phone. I get bursts of inspiration after a short walk and immersion into JFDI, which reminds me of the outside world. I get bursts of inspiration after reading books or blogposts- I ultimately synthesize those things rather than come up with “purely original” ideas. So these are the principles I have to work with.