0276 – listen to yourself

Let’s start with the immediate thought– a few weeks ago I did 10 word vomits in a single day. I had previously always been curious about what my limit was. Now, I did these 10 vomits through the middle of the day– I didn’t start until 2pm or 4pm (I can’t even remember), and I recall procrastinating throughout the middle. It was hardly optimized. It was just how many vomits I did when I committed myself to doing as many vomits as possible in a day, without knowing anything about what my limits might be.

I’m absolutely certain I can do more than ten. I suspect I can do 20 if I woke up early and was a bit more methodical about it. Maybe I might do some light planning– not full outlines or anything, just coming up with questions that I feel like answering.

So I feel like I’d like to experiment with doing more than 10 today, if possible. I will be visiting my parents in the evening, so I only have a few hours to make the attempt. It’s 135pm now, and I have maybe until 6 or 7pm, with lunch included. I don’t know. I’m just going to make another intense writing attempt and see what this data point gives me.

Why? I was thinking as I was lying in bed, and as I was in the shower, about what I want to be doing. What I really care about. I feel like I’ve lost interest in a lot of the things I thought I was interested in. I’ve lost many of my illusions. Most things don’t matter. Life is absurd. It’s a game.

There’s a nice line from Power of Now [1] about how– if you haven’t figured out your internal purpose, then no amount of external planning and motivation will fulfill you. You’re just running faster and faster in a hamster wheel, maybe. It gets exhausting. And I feel like I’ve been experiencing some of this exhaustion. It’s got nothing to do with my working environment or my colleagues, all of that is wonderful. It’s entirely to do with the interiority of my mind, of my self. I haven’t taken time for myself to figure out where I’m at, to figure out what I care about, what I no longer care about, what I really really want. Maybe I’ve been a little afraid to confront this.

Though as I say this I recognize a sort of loop– I’m comfortable saying “maybe I’m a little afraid”, because I’ve done it many times before. What is the next step, and why have I never taken it? I think the next step is to measure my efforts and to take efforts and to preempt failure and to build a body of work that is measured, accounted for. I tend to shirk accountability. So I need to become more accountable. I was reading something from Psychological Self Help which talked about the crap-gap– about how some people are motivated to fail, because deep down they’re afraid of more responsibility and accountability. As long as you keep failing within a specific domain, you won’t be given more responsibility, where you might then fail within a larger domain and embarass yourself or disappoint people.

But whenever you write this down it’s going to look really silly, self-imposed, overblown. In the light of consciousness, it’s clear that the animals in my head are naked and weak. It’s only in the fog when they seem powerful and imposing, and I bend to their will. I want to be careful to avoid making dramatic gestures like “This time it will be different! I am going to make a change around here!” – clearly this sort of thing doesn’t work in an organization or company– I’m reminded of the 2nd-Lieutenant who took over Supply Coy when I was in the Army, and his big machismo speeches were insensitive and frustrating to the team, and they ended up resenting him for it– one of them even challenged him to a fight and beat him up, I believe.

You can’t play chicken with people who have nothing to lose. I suppose the same thing applies inside my own head. I am responsible for a team of frightened, scared, nervous, anxious little fellas inside my head, and I’ve been shouting over them, making promises on their behalf without consulting them. Very bad management. What I should be really doing is listening to myself without judgement, without making these broad projections or proclamations about how things should be, how things are going to be. All I can do right now is commit to listening.

So that’s what I care about. I don’t want to jump through any stupid hoops that I set for myself– I have enough hoops created for me by the world that I live in. (And life and growing up inescapably involves responsibility– what I need isn’t to avoid it, what I need is to grow and develop into a person for whom being responsible is easy. That’s a possibility that I still haven’t fully wrapped my head around, that I still haven’t grasped as possible. That it’s possible to have fun without shirking responsibility. That I can do my work, and that I can do what is asked/expected of me, and I can do it well, early on, and then have fun. That I can do my homework and then have time to play afterwards.

Why do the homework when you can just play right away? Because life is long and things get substantially worse if you don’t develop the skills you’ll need to get things done despite minor unpleasantness. If today was the only day that you had, then by all means– fuck the homework. Just play. But there is tomorrow, there is next month, there is next year, and presumably there is next decade and the decades that follow– each with diminishing probablility of materializing, but still. You can’t just live minute by minute– you live IN the present, but that still considers the broader sense of things.

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[1] Which is a remarkably pleasurable read, and puts me in a nice headspace whenever I pick it up and flick through it– I should learn to do this with other books that achieve the same effect. Predatory Thinking, something by Seth Godin– things that just catalyze thoughts.

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