0410 – shelves of books and nothing to read

I was amused by a minor struggle I had this morning when choosing a toilet read. I’ve gone through quite a few books in there. Steve Wozniak’s autobiography was a great toilet read. So was Tolle’s Power of Now. So was Neil Strauss’s The Game. All of those were books that I was very happy to read. I had a couple of missteps, too. I got started on Osho’s Conversations With Remarkable People but I found it overly bullshitty for my taste. I tried reading The Box but it was too information-dense. I tried re-reading 48 Laws of Power but somehow it just feels like a bit of a slog. I started on Brave New World, and it feels like something I want to read– but I’d like to promote that to “pressing read” rather than “toilet read”– pressing read meaning something I keep with me, read for hours at a time. So my Toilet Read slot is currently still vacant. I think I might try eBoys next. I don’t know.

I took a break at this point to tidy up my Workflowy a little. Which turned out to be a remarkably byzantine process, involving me opening many links and tumbling down multiple epic rabbitholes. But on hindsight that shouldn’t be surprising at all, that was what was keeping me from doing very much about it. The fact that it was sprawling.

Which is actually what I want to think and write about. The whole sense of “I’ve got tonnes of stuff and nothing to do”. It doesn’t make sense, it’s a sort of illusion. It’s not a valid feeling, even though it feels real. Information overload. Too many things to do, a sense of too many possibilities. But it doesn’t feel like that’s all there is to it. To get the full picture we have to bring in the fact that some things are kept from the immediate consciousness, probably because they’re difficult and uncomfortable to deal with. Ugh fields. I’m not sure what’s the right lens to view this through.[1]

I keep saying to myself that I need to take many more breaks. But what should these breaks look like, and why am I not taking them already? Is it because I’m not measuring and paying attention to my time? I’ve experimented with so many different solutions already that I’ve gotten a bit weary of them all. It feels like there should be a simpler way, that I shouldn’t be using so many tools. Sure, I know that I need prosthetics, so I can’t just dive in solo– but drowning in a list of options is another form of paralysis.

Haven’t yet talked about what I wanted to talk about, which is how the feeling of “man, there’s nothing to do” is really deceptive. There’s never nothing to do. There’s always a list of interesting things to do, but interesting things can be a little hard, a litlte challenging, require some contextualizing, some effort. This requires some clarity of mind, some planning. So whenever it seems like there’s nothing to do, a person ought to shower, meditate and reflect for a while, and it’ll be pretty clear what needs to be done.

Got lost again. Came back here again. Each time these things happen a bunch of time passes. This happened entirely with me still sitting here, my bladder slowly filling, the clock moving forward, me recognizing that it’s getting later and later… me listening to something that I can’t actually focus on right now… so let me shut that off.

The most important thing in my life really seems to be about meditating and getting centered more regularly. Now I’ll open a tab and check Facebook real quick, and challenge myself to do it in under a minute or two. Why? Beats me. This is how my mind works when it’s late and I’m tired. Back here. About 6 minutes passed.

Am I making progress? I feel like I must be. I’m being more productive at work. I’ve been publishing these vomits more regularly than before. So it’s interesting to pay attention to this. It’s possible to make progress and yet feel like you’re not, really. Because you’re mindful of all the ways things are going wrong, even as things are going more right than before. It’s a conscious incompetence over unconscious incompetence thing.

What now? I guess I’m just going to reaffirm that I want to read the books, and I want to tidy up the byzantine messes in my life. I know that it’ll never be 100% possible, but I do believe it’s possible to make 20% progress, 40%, 60%, 80%. And well… I don’t need to go that far. I just need to make one step forward a day. 1%. 0.1%. Whatever. I just need to keep moving. And as long as I keep moving and make a little progress everyday I think I’m doing okay. We can go to the next level when we’re ready.

[1] Here I find myself thinking, that’s one thing that meditation helps with. I saw a quote somewhere on Reddit that resonated with me. Someone asked, can’t meditation be a form of procrastination? And the reply was- procrastination is about avoiding something. Meditation is about non-avoidance. It’s about allowing whatever you’re avoiding to come into your presence. Sure, meditation is probably a lot more than just that, but that’s something useful, I think, from the perspective of procrastinators or anybody who feels strangely unsettled like I tend to do. Like there’s this odd sense of calm that isn’t real calm. Real calm acknowledges reality. The odd calm I often experience is a sort of escapist calm, artificially created by a mind that’s trying to protect itself from reality. But the truth is that hiding from reality is not a sustainable solution. And it’s not what I want to be doing. But my body and mind has had loads of practice doing this sort of denial over the years. So I need daily practices to help me reverse the habit. My daily writing practice is part of it. Daily work emails is part of it.

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