0344 – wipe the slate clean and face your problems now

Let’s wipe the slate clean and start over. I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with this over the years, over the last 300+ times I’ve done this, but I’m still not nearly as comfortable as I’d like to be. I’d like to really detach myself from the outcome and commit entirely to the process, to just allow the words to flow out of me, to allow the numbers to rack up, and then just publish it. Almost burn it, metaphorically speaking. Burn it out of my short term memory, at least. Every so often some idea gets stuck in the deeper recesses of my mind– but it only happens after I’ve already written about it and sent it on its way. (I suppose it’s more like throwing out messages in bottles, or folded planes.)

Let’s revisit some thoughts that I’ve been wanting to revisit, off the top of my mind. I wanted to think about how I have a habit of putting things off for later.

I also wanted to think about how I get in my own way with distractions, and how that’s probably because I’m a little afraid to do things that might be hard or uncomfortable, or things that’ll come out imperfect. I keep hoping and waiting for perfect conditions and hopefully perfect outcomes. But the truth is the moment you get out of the deliberation phase, the moment you decide to take action, instantly 99% of the potential perfection vanishes. You’re down to zero, and you have to start with one– and it can even go into negative numbers if you’re not careful. And you want to hopefully get up to 50, 60, 70. Nobody ever gets past 70, I think. Now I’m just being completely arbitrary on a scale that’s completely invented, and the truth is that there’s no scale. Art is never finished, only abandoned.

So let’s just make stuff and abandon it. That was the premise of the whole word vomit project. Somehow somewhere along the way I got attached the the outcomes– it might have been after I started getting some positive responses from people. And then I subconsciously keep wanting to get more positive responses, because it’s social stroking, validation, it’s addictive.

But that isn’t what I really want. That isn’t what really scratches the itch. The real itch is simply a need for output, plain and simple. That’s all that needs to happen, and the hard part is letting go of everything else. I have to be well and truly able to just write and write and not give a fucking damn about whether it amounts to anything in the end. Because nothing amounts to anything in the end. I have to trust in the process, trust in my own mind, trust in my own development. I am responsible for my own development, my own learning, my own happiness, my own joy, amusement, all of those things.

I have looked at people who are skilled in some way or another– artists, musicians, dancers, poets and so on– and I have felt resentment, thinking that those people have applied themselves in some way and I have not. I have wasted my hours, days, weeks, months, years. No more. And I say that over and over again, and already in these vomits you can see how I repeat myself. 300,000 words of me repeating myself. We’ll just keep going until we’re done. We’ll keep going until we’re truly sick of it. Until we truly feel like okay, we can let go now, it’s not our fault, it doesn’t really matter.

Okay? Okay.

I wanted to talk about how I have a habit of saying “I’ll do it later”. Today I woke up and went to the dentist for my routine checkup. That was quite responsible of me. I’m pretty sure a year or two ago, I would’ve just not answered the phone when the dental office called, and I’d have made up excuses and not gone for the appointment. We went for the appointment! (My wife had her’s too.) This is progress. I’m making progress. It’s slower than I’d like, and less exciting than I’d like. I feel like I should be ready for more now, like I should be able to do more. I don’t actually feel ready to do more, but I’ve learnt by now that you sorta gotta do more than you think you’re ready for. Well– it depends on whether you systematically overestimate or underestimate yourself. I’m a systematic overestimater.

Well, okay. But why do I postpone things? Because then they’re not a problem. I just don’t want anything to be a problem. I don’t want any trouble. Everything should be calm and relaxed, and we should be able to read books and play video games and drink soda and smoke cigarettes all day everyday, and our health wouldn’t be affected, and we’d just have money, and we wouldn’t have to worry about a thing. That’s the child in me talking.

The truth is that reality isn’t so friendly and kind. We don’t get to be happy, relaxed foragers in this existence. There are challenges. There are problems. There are threats. And we have to face them. We have bills to pay. We have things like health insurance to worry about. Adult responsibilities. These things don’t go away just because I wish they would. And honestly I don’t think I wish that they’ll go away anymore. Wishing is futile. Reality is what it is and we either face up to it or we don’t, we either rise to the challenge or we don’t. That’s just how it is. When the barbarians are at the gates, we can’t wish we didn’t have to deal with it. So we have to pull ourselves together and face our challenges head on. Face our fears head on. The ship can’t ride the wave sideways, you have to go nose-first, ride right into it. If you meet a ghost, introduce yourself, or it’ll take the form of your worst fears and just ruin you. You’ll turn to drinking and drugs or whatever the equivalent escapism is for you. That’s the lesson.

Let’s wipe the slate clean and start over.

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