I spent a long time today lying on my sofa, looking out at the sky outside my window. I found it to be very calming. Lately I’ve been feeling like everything is too chaotic, too noisy. I was starting to get really anxious and stressed, and I was feeling like I was constantly falling behind everything, constantly lagging, constantly playing catch-up, never quite able to keep all of my balloons and plates in the air.
I revisited Guruka Singh, whose happy, jolly face is still pleasant to encounter- but I don’t know, it wasn’t entirely what I needed. I revisited Jon Kabat-Zinn, watched a couple of his videos and I found myself thinking yes, I need to revisit this. I need to meditate. I need to calm down. All this anxiety and flitting around wasn’t helping me to get anything done. I was just kicking up a dust cloud, running from point A to point B, panicking… like a person freaking out because they’re late (I do that a lot).
I’m really fucking tired of freaking out all the fucking time. I cannot sustain this, and so I need a pretty significant lifestyle change. It can’t be a one-off thing. I managed to quit smoking, cool. I’ve reached 200 word vomits, cool. But I’ve done all of this- and everything I’ve done- has been in this state of constant fear, constant panic, and as I get more responsibilities, as I become more accountable for things, random improvisation doesn’t help anymore. I can’t just coast along anymore. I’ve always known this to be true, just as I’ve always known that smoking was bad for me. I’ve been writing about how maybe-i-oughts meditate for a long time. I’ve been writing about how I ought to drink more water, how I ought to exercise. I keep reminding myself of these things. I keep forgetting. A part of it might be ADHD or whatever, sure, and as long as I persist I do trust that I’ll eventually figure stuff out.
So I’m here again, at this funny observer/participant crossroads where- yeah I know that I’ll make it as long as I don’t quit, but that part of not-quitting means fixing things along the way so that you don’t fail, so that you don’t die. (I mean ‘die’ in a video game sense, I’m not suicidal or anything. I recognise that life can and will get better if you let it, and that in some sense I’m really just beating myself up over a whole lot of nothing.)
I KNOW that I will find peace. I KNOW that it is entirely up to me, and that it’s inside me. I have made the decision. I made it weakly a while ago, and now I’m making the affirmation. I’m revisiting it. I’m becoming the kind of person who insists that shit gets done. The saboteur will die a slow, painful death just as the smoker did.
I’m reminded of how I used to play Simcity (I’ve written about this before) and how I used to play Grand Theft Auto (I haven’t written about this, I think.) Let’s talk about the GTA example. When you first start a game of GTA2- (GTA3 and Vice City and the rest have better onboarding, I believe), you just start out with this guy in the middle of a city- in front of a city block- and you’re free to wander off punching people, stealing cars, driving around, getting in trouble. There are actually quests that you can do, but it didn’t occur to my young child-self then that that was an option. I didn’t pay attention to the instructions, I didn’t know what the arrows were. I thought GTA was just about stealing cars and running over people, which seemed fun. For a while. Eventually you get the police chasing you, and you have this fun little chase sequence for a while, but then they overwhelm you and you die. And then you start the whole thing all over again. That cycle gets boring (just as Simcity gets boring when you build too many roads without doing any zoning and then you have too many maintenance fees that you can’t pay, and so your budget goes into deficit and then they fire you for being a shitty mayor.)
I’ve been living my life kind of like that, I think. Running around randomly in GTA, or building too many roads in SimCity without doing any zoning. In both cases, running around IS fun, and building roads IS fun- but that’s not all there is. You need to do the quests. You need to build the actual city. Those are the bits where the real challenge is. Those are the actual main quests that challenge you to grow and develop your skills, and they rewards you disproportionately for it, too. What I’ve been doing is sort of running around in free roam forever and then wonder why I don’t have any money, or why I don’t seem to be getting any stronger, and why my in-game experience starts getting so shitty.
I need to focus. I need to prioritise. I have limited time and limited energy, so I can’t afford to dawdle around on free-roam and hope that everything just works out. Because I know that doesn’t work. I’ve done it long enough to know that it doesn’t work. I’ve faced the undesirable outcomes in many different forms, enough to know that it doesn’t work.
If I want to learn and grow and challenge myself, focus is the only way. The free-roaming bit and the random road building stuff is only afforded when I get the cool stuff done. And the huge side-benefit is that free-roaming becomes a lot more fun when you do the fucking quests. (The quests give you respect from the gangs, legitimacy, currency, and they walk you through the things you need to do to evade the cops, etc… all in all making the experience a whole lot more sustainable.)