0346 – finish (or decisively abandon) what you start

It’s 9.45pm. I slept later yesterday than I would’ve liked, and woke up later than I would’ve liked. I did some work, but less than I would’ve liked. I found myself thinking about some local social/political nonsense that has been bothering me for some time, and after deliberating over it for a long time I wrote a Facebook status update about it. I told my wife that I was very bothered that I was bothered, and she laughed and said that I was turning it into an unnecessary issue– if I wanted to say something, then I might as well just say it. So I said it. Now I’m done with having said it.

A thought on my mind while I was eating dinner, listening to Alan Watts on YouTube. We’re all really nervous systems, sustained by our digestive and circulative systems and protected by our immune systems (I wanted to say “just” instead of “really”, but that implies a certain reductiveness… but meh, whatever.) And we’re alive for a while and then we die. We’re expressions of all of existence. And we develop concepts and ideas and identities and narratives.

I find myself thinking. What does this nervous system want? What is it trying to do? I was watching a group of old men drinking beer and smoking– several groups of old men. Groups of nervous systems, stroking one another, enjoying the pleasurable stimuli of alcohol and nicotine. It’s an interesting ritual. And we all have rituals of our own, don’t we? I think about the group of people who are arguing with one another on Facebook right now. They’re not representative of everybody, but they’re a world unto themselves. They’re playing their own game, with their own rules and objectives, feedback, reward, etc. It can get quite addictive. And I think about me, here right now, triggering thoughts in my brain, sending electrical impulses to my fingers to move on the keyboard of my MacBook Air, which was probably built by workers in China, with metals mined out of the Earth (aluminum, bauxite from Australia, China, Brazil, Guinei). Thinking in a language called English, which has been thousands of years in the making.

Okay. So what? What happens next? What is unfolding? What is being expressed?

I got distracted, stayed up too late, went to bed around maybe 230am. And then I woke up at around 1030am, showered, had breakfast, spent a little more time getting distracted, and then here I am again, here to finish this. It’s always funny when I run dry in the middle of a vomit. It often feels like I can’t just continue from where I left off, unless I was tackling a very specific problem. The state of mind does not linger. I might revisit it at some other point in time, but I can’t conjure it, I can’t force it. I find myself thinking about A Sideways Look At Time, a book written by Jay Griffiths. She wrote different chapters while she was in different locations. Neil Strauss did the same with The Game, and Nassim Taleb did the same with either Black Swan or Antifragile or both. I like that. As I reread old vomits, I do enjoy discerning the state of mind I was in when I was writing something. Sometimes I’m tired, sometimes frustrated, sometimes annoyed, sometimes confused, sometimes happy, sometimes clear-headed. Right now I’m feeling a little… transitional? The sunlight outside my window is nice. The washing machine is running. The airconditioning is on and it’s a little cold, and I know it must be really hot outside. The wife is doing some housekeping, moving boxes around and stuff. And I’m sort of just writing to fill in the time. To capture one particular moment rather than to explore any particular idea. And I think I’m learning to make my piece with that. Not every single post needs to be about ideas, needs to be incisive and sharp and intelligent. Sometimes I just want to fill in the space. Not every song needs to be profound. There is a certain joy and elegance just in appreciating the passage of time while it’s happening. It’s precious.

But I guess, okay, once I’ve sort of done justice to that, my mind then starts to rev up a little and think bigger, longer. What is the next thing I want to do? What is the next experience? The next thing to learn? I find myself thinking about my frustration and distaste with the spaces that I have access to. I mean, I appreciate that I have a home, even if I’m not a huge fan of my neighbourhood or the commute I have to work. I love my colleagues, though I do wish the area around my work would be more interesting. I wish I had more conversations with people doing work that interested me.

Those last couple of sentences have me thinking, why am I complaining, why don’t I do something about it? Yes, it’s better to do something than to complain. The complaining is merely a symptom, a sign that there’s something I want that I’m not getting. It’s an indicator that I ought to do something. But there’s two approaches here– the direct approach, which is to try to attack the “problem” head on, and then there’s the questioning approach, which is to ask– why do I even want to have these conversations? What do I hope to get out of these things? I want to feel less alone. I want to feel less isolated. I want to feel like I matter, to a greater degree or extent than I already do. And I realize… I can already do that. I can do more for myself right now. I can do more at work, for example– and that would give me the sense of significance that I must be craving. And that would be even better than helping random people, because I feel like I owe my coworkers better.

I suppose I’m looking for easy ways out. Starting new things is always fun and exciting, because things are always easy at the start. But real, lasting pleasure comes from completing things, not starting things. I have started many, many things in my life. I should focus on completing things instead.

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