0353 – discharge your strength, productively

I make a lot of strange decisions. Right now I’m deciding to write a word vomit in the middle of the day. Is this a bad idea? Well, I’m not being productive. I want to be productive. I feel like writing helps me become more productive. Perhaps this is an excuse. But it doesn’t matter, what matters is that I do whatever it is that I say I want to do. It’s my life, my choices. I’ll start a pomodoro for word vomits, and then write this. And if I’m done before the timer is up, maybe I’ll start another one, or maybe I’ll sit on the sofa and meditate for a while, and then attack my work tasks with focus. It does seem like the number of hours I have in a day to actually get work done are very few. I should commit myself to doing very short amounts of really intense work. I’ve written this several times before, so let’s stop there.

I’m not sure where I encountered this quote– oh yes, in a post on Poached Magazine that was titled “Work Sets You Free”. I wondered if the writer knew about the usage of the phrase in Nazi Germany. I think he didn’t. But in that post was a quote by Nietzsche that I don’t recall seeing before– something about how living things desire to discharge their strength, that living itself is a will-to-power. Now I don’t know the precise details of the whole will-to-power concept, and I’m aware that Nietzsche himself wrote a lot but was himself a bit of a… cowardly man? Well– he thought and wrote a lot but he was also often anxious and afraid, I’m sure. He proposed 3 times and had his proposal rejected, probably got syphillis from a prostitute, might’ve been gay… he didn’t seem to be quite the ubermensch that he conceived of. And I think there’s something very depressing about conceiving of something with increasing clarity but not realizing it. I’m probably misinterpreting this, so I’ll leave it at that. It might be a great contribution to the world, but it’s a miserable way to live, and I definitely don’t want to live in misery myself. I want to enjoy my life. I want to be happy.

Anyway, the quote I saw was something along the lines of– a living being seeks above all to discharge its strength, life itself is will to power. The person I am at this time in my life relates to that quote a lot. I think I recognize that writing a vomit is a sort of discharge of strength, finishing a run is a sort of discharge of strength. And if I feel weird and queasy in life I think it could be because I’m not discharging enough. It’s a strange thing to say… there was a time where I was writing many Facebook status updates, and that was my addiction, that was my discharge. I’d go around replying to people, winning internet arguments. Yes, that was my discharged strength, and I can see it happening every day still. People still argue on the Internet to feel like they’ve done something. To feel like they matter. I used to do it a lot and I still do it from time to time.

But the challenge is to do things that endure. If they don’t endure, then they’re just blips. And Facebook statuses hardly endure. The challenge is to do bigger pieces of writing that matter. And outside of writing, the challenge is to lift weights, to run, to grow strong, to be able to move things, to be able to defend yourself, to kick somebody’s ass if necessary. Discharge strength. You don’t necessarily need to do it, we don’t necessarily need to go around kicking everyone’s ass. Before anything else, be armed, no?

I guess maybe there’s a conflict here about what I believe. Do I believe that I should arm myself, that I should get strong, that I should be capable of delivering ass-kickings? There’s a part of me that’s afraid that in the attempt I will discover that I can’t do it. And there’s a part of me that rationalizes the whole thing (and rationalizing is a discharge of mental strength)– I say things like, only weak people feel the need to be strong, the truly strong don’t care about being weak. But that’s just parlor games, intellectual wise-cracking, smart-assery. When push comes to shove, actual strength makes all the difference. Actual power.

So why am I afraid of it? Why do I not work towards it? Why am I hesitant to get stronger? Why am I hesitant to discharge my strength in areas that make a difference? I guess I worry about what people think. What will my friends and family think, when they see me suddenly aspiring towards some sort of power, some sort of strength? That’s awfully suspicious, isn’t it? But actually who cares? Nobody cares. Everybody is caught up in their own mess. (2016 Visa: Yup. Nobody cares, just get stronger.)

And beyond that, suppose somebody suddenly got really strong, really powerful, really efficient and effective… if people in her life started insulting her for it, she’s better off without them. Why would you want to spend your life surrounded by that sort of toxic people, anyway? It’s a sort of mutually reinforced delusion, a suicide pact– let’s all opt out of the game together, and validate each other in our safe spaces where we’re unlikely to ever be put in a situation where our raw strength and power is actually tested. In those spaces (provided by others), we’ll develop little games that we play amongst ourselves, and we’ll talk about insights and narratives and sports and analysis and whatever gets us off. And we’ll get each other off.

But that doesn’t work for me. I’ve tried it and it’s frustrating. Because sooner or later the show’s over, the music stops. Sooner or later you’re on your own, and you’ve got to buy and carry the groceries home. Sooner or later you’re going to have to carry your injured spouse and/or kids. Life doesn’t give a fuck about our little stories. I should get stronger, so I can help myself, and I can help other people. I don’t want to hurt or conquer anybody. I want to be able to help people. But to do that I need to become stronger. To do that I need to start with myself. And I need to stop worrying about what other people think of me. The only thing that matters each day is– what do I think of me? How do I feel about me? What am I working towards? What do I want? That’s all that counts.

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