0308 – Draw, Play, Explore

A: I just need to draw, play, explore.

B: Are you saying that you aren’t doing that already?

A: I suppose if I’m doing it, I’m not doing enough of it. It doesn’t feel like I’m doing it whole-heartedly. It feels like I’m just going through the motions, tired, distracted.

B: Would you like to change that?

A: Oh, yes, so badly, yes.

B: What do you have to do?

A: When I rest, I need to rest fully. I give myself unnecessary bullshit that I have to try and keep up with things when things are clearly not working out. If stuff needs to go undone so I can recover, so be it.

But this doesn’t feel like the heart of the matter.

B: Alright, so what’s the heart of the matter?

A: It might be that I’m afraid. It might be that I don’t quite believe that it’s possible. It might be that I need inspiration. It might be that I need some sort of change.

B: Is there anything you can do to find out what it might be?

A: Trial and error, I guess?

B: What are you afraid of?

A: That I wil try and discover that I’m incapable.

B: How would that actually play out?

A: I don’t know. I suppose it’s a fear borne out of a misguided sense of “continuity”. A sense that life will always be as it is right now. That my history equals my destiny. That I will always be scatterbrained, that I will always be irresponsible– and hey, I’ve gotten more responsible, so I know that this can change. That I will always sleep too much– hey, I woke up early today. I wasn’t super alert, but this is definitely something that can be trained. I just need practice, and maybe I need something a little scary to shake me up.

B: What changes have you made?

A: Well– I’ve learned to cook some things, which is more progress than I imagined myself capable of. Or… you know how it is. I don’t know if I can trust myself with my imagination. My projections are unreliable. I would like to grow up and become a person who is a man of his word– who can be trusted, relied upon. By myself, and by others. So I told myself that I would go to the gym. It took longer than I would’ve liked, but I went. I’m still slipping on some things, which is upsetting, but the thing is to move the overall line forward.

B: So do you think you’re incapable?

A: I think I’m not, but I don’t know if I have earned the right to trust myself. So I suppose I shouldn’t try to answer that question in the abstract. I am capable of some things. I am capable of keeping my cats alive. I am capable of paying my bills. I am capable of writing 11,000 words in a day. I may some day be able to do more. I’ll be comfortable projecting 13,000, even if intellectually I suspect that the number might be much higher. Let’s get to 13,000 before I make more grandiose promises.

B: What other promises are there?

A: I really do want to talk to as many of my teachers and childhood friends as I can, at least just to get through any issues I might have. I also… feel like I owe my colleagues more. But maybe I shouldn’t be using that sort of language. Maybe this sort of language is precisely what keeps me from becoming the person I want to become, from doing the things I want to do.

B: Let’s go through the other questions. What do you not believe is possible?

A: Making a living as a writer? But I know I don’t have to do that overnight. I just need to get good pieces of writing out of me, and then get them in front of other people. I don’t need to worry about making a living from that right now– I can still make a living in other ways. I don’t need to meet this perfect, romanticized platonic ideal existence– it’s like desiring a relationship out of a romantic comedy, isn’t it? With the dramatic confession and all.

I suppose a more interesting/challenging question would be whether I believe it’s possible for me to become the balanced individual that I will have to become in order to do all the things I want to do. And once I frame it that way, again there is no doubt. People far less fortunate than myself have been able to build themselves up into persons far greater than me. I just need to persist. I need to revisit myself over and over again, review my dream every day, make a little progress every day. Meditate more. Reflect. Go over my data so that it doesn’t become stale. Remind myself. Sleep early.

B: You’ve definitely said this stuff a lot. It seems like you might be making some progress, but my job is to play Devil’s Advocate. Aren’t you just saying these things over and over again? What’s different? [1]

A: I don’t really know. Everything and nothing. I’ve started working out again, which is new. Do you think I’m going to end up slipping on that? I feel like it’s too important for me to slip on.

B: I can’t know for sure. You might do something different this time.

A: But you think it’s most probable that I’m going to slip.

B: Technically, yeah, but that’s the case with all things. Failure is always the likeliest outcome, simply because there’s so many ways to get at it.

A: Do you think I’ll finish these 1,000 vomits?

B: Yeah, you will.

A: How long do you think it’ll take?

B: I don’t know. How long do YOU think it’ll take?

A: If you asked me this when I was starting out, I would say maybe 2 years from now. About a vomit a day should be fine, right? But I didn’t have much context then.

B: What would you say now?

A: I think… 2 years from now.

B: Aren’t you shooting yourself in the foot there?

A: I feel like this time is different. I know I can write 10 vomits in a day on the weekends. If I do that once a week every 2nd weekend, that’s almost about 1/day. Which gives me about 2 years. And when I’m approaching the end I think I might speed up.

B: But you don’t know that for sure.

A: Yeah. But I’m writing. I’m writing.


[1] I answered this question twice, here’s the other answer:

A: That’s a good an important question, and I don’t have any concrete answers apart from– I think the fact that I’m going to be turning 25.

B: Ok, let’s talk about that in the next vomit. What will you do differently in the meantime?

A: I’m just constantly cycling around the same things that seem important to me. It used to be painful to me that I took so long to quit smoking, and now it’s painful to me that I don’t do daily and weekly reviews as religiously as I’d like to. Hell, I barely do them ever. So I’m going to start doing them super regularly, everyday before I go to bed, and whenever I get the chance, really. I’m going to use my workflowy for the digital stuff and I’m going to write in my pocket-sized notebook– which I’ll carry with me everyday, along with my smartphone.

B: Do you want to take a second to revisit the title?

A: Sure– I was reading this bit about Richard Feynman talking about how he was feeling blocked and stressed when he was doing what he thought he was supposed to be doing, and how it used to be a joyous play for him (physics, that is)– and how ultimately he earned the Nobel Prize not by pursuing some seriously important pursuit, but by pursuing his curiosity about the way some plates were spinning or something like that.

B: So you think you’re like Feynman?

A: I don’t know. I just think it’s interesting.

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