0354 – a day at home

Today has been delightfully irresponsible. I decided not to go to work today, I decided to take a “mental health day” if you’d call it that. It wasn’t that much of a decision. I was feeling it since the night before. It’s been a short week– monday was a holiday– but I had spent the long weekend pretty much sleeping too late and being tired and sloppy and unproductive, too. So do I deserve this break of sorts? I don’t think it matters. I think I’ve been way too hard on myself for an unnecessarily long period of time. I know that I want to do good work, I know that I want to be useful to people, I know that I want my boss to get his money’s worth and more for hiring me. I want to contribute above and beyond what can reasonably be expected for someone. These things are true, I know it when I look in the mirror.

For the sake of listening to all the voices in my head, even the crazy ones, I considered the possibility that I might not actually be interested in my work, that I might actually just want to be slacking off and getting by, and all of this is just rationalization and fluff and distraction and so on. I gave that thought some pretty serious consideration, and it was depressing, because it would mean that I’m a hell of a fraud. I thought about it long and hard and I realized it was a “which wolf you feed” situation. There is no objective truth– there are multiple interpretations, and the act of interpreting something and focusing on something makes it marginally more true.

Your thoughts become your words, actions, habits, character, destiny, etc. So it boils down to what you believe when you’re alone, meditating, breathing, letting go of everything else. I was doing that for a while earlier and I will be doing it for a while more afterwards, but in moments of clarity I think it’s clear that I want to contribute. Otherwise I wouldn’t feel awkward and annoyed and queasy when I’ve been slacking off. I feel that way because I know there is more that I can do. I know that right next door, adjacent to my current reality, there is another almost-reality that is so much richer. One where I contribute so much more, and am so much less anxious and annoyed and afraid.

So I have two trains of thoughts from this jumping off point. One is a sense of time and another is a sense of worry, concern, anxiety. I’ll save anxiety for the next post.

Time. I’m thinking about Jay Griffith’s book A Sideways Look At Time, and how it was a subtle mindfuck that made me realize how shallow and narrow our definitions of time are. Time doesn’t just pass in the highly structured, rigid, second-by-second minute-by-minute hour-by-hour pip pip pip. Time can be wild and rough and broad and tense. Music slows down when you’re listening to it while running. There’s something missing when we measure our lives day by day, week by week, and we expect to do X amount of work every single day, cranking widgets and so on. Once again I think there is truth in the middle of my former wrongness– I was wrong about the idea that someday I would be incredibly motivated and suddenly get everything done. No, there is some amount of grind that has to be faced every day. Everyday I have to do the writing, do the work. I have to at least attempt it for my own sake. Later today I will attempt to run, because I owe it to myself and it will be fun.

But in the meantime, sometimes there’s just broader seasonal waves and drifts and such. Sometimes I feel like reading books all day long. Sometimes I feel like writing all day long. So far it feels like I haven’t yet quite fallen into a wonderful “feel like doing work all day long” situation yet, but I think that’s because I haven’t framed the situation properly yet. I think I should set aside meditation days where I meditate all day long, maybe all week long. Rather than allocating time to specific tasks, I think it makes more sense to devote time to modes of being. A clinical day. An expansive day. A lazy day. A fast day. A movement day. A different point of view day. A random buses day. A craftsman’s day. So on and so forth. Even without grand adventures like travel or other big things, life ought to be full of precious days that are interesting. But if you don’t decide what your days are going to be, then you’ll have them decided for you. [1]

If there’s any lesson for me underneath all of this, it really just seems to be… that I need to run more, and that I need to meditate more, and that I need to take breaks more. I don’t do enough of that. Earlier today I spent a disturbing number of hours in “flow” looking at stupid things on the Internet. Am I proud of that? No. Could I have done better? I’m not sure. Do I want to do better? Yes. Do I know what I need to do? I think the main thing is to have a better ritual and to take breaks with a refocusing ritual of sorts. I stick to the original starting points for way too long when I’m doing things that aren’t great, and I don’t get to the actually-great things because actually-great things require planning, preparation, mental-state management, etc. And I should make that a priority.

This is something I have said many times and have not made any substantial changes in. I suppose it’s because there’s been nothing concrete. I think what I need is to have a daily little challenge, and I should x-effect that. Let’s do that.
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[1] Actually I think that can be opened up and explored a little more. If you don’t unplug, if you don’t let go of your programming, then you’ll follow your programming. And your programming is designed to do what is familiar and easy. So we’re all moths flying into flames over and over again. And we say things like, oh, maybe the moth isn’t that serious about getting away from the flame. Maybe it’s just lazy. That’s obviously not true, is it? If we were freer to choose as we pleased, then we would choose things that pleased us more. So clearly we’re not making the best decisions, and clearly we’re doing that because making the best decisions is harder, more painful or otherwise somehow more difficult or challenging in some way.

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