Have had a few recurring conversations recently– first with my wife then with a couple of my colleagues, and I suppose I wrote a vomit about it a couple of days ago. I was rather sleep-deprived today, having slept last night, so my mind isn’t very clear, but I’d like to get this one out before I go to bed.
The idea is this– things change. It’s an obvious statement, but it’s not always obvious when we think about everyday life and about our mental models of everyday life. Sometimes I feel like I’m still 15, 18, 21. I’m 25. What’s changed? Well, practically everything. On a physical level, every atom in my body is probably different. My circumstances have changed. I own a house now, and I’m married, and I have two cats. I have a job, and the precise nature of my job is constantly changing and evolving even if it isn’t entirely obvious week on week. The contract that I signed over 2 years ago doesn’t quite cover the full scope of my actual role and responsibilities. My relationship with my family members have changed. The way people see me has probably changed. The way I think of myself? Well, it’s changed to some degree, but not as deliberately as I think it should. I still cling on to old patterns, old systems, old models.
So it’s necessary to shake things up every once in a while. I’m probably due for a vacation soon– as one colleague said, it’s never the right time to take a break, because there’s always things going on, but you’re going to need one sooner or later. I’ve said this in other contexts, too– I was just telling a friend that she has to make time for herself, because if she doesn’t then sooner or later her body/mind will insist on making time, in the form of stress, frustration, illness, injury, depression, whatever. We’re not machines that can go on indefinitely (and even machines need regular maintenance!).
Another colleague was talking about entropy, and how it’s always growing, and there’s always an increasing amount of clutter and buildup– the exciting part of business is planting seeds and watching them grow, but there’s also the messy business of watering and clearing weeds and so on. And one of the themes that’s been running through my life and through these vomits is that I’m not very good at the weed-clearing bit. Part of the reason I do these vomits is every time I write, I feel like I’m clearing things up a little bit. I’m clarifying things a little bit. But it’s never going to be enough, it’s never going to be “done”. You can’t “win” and then never have to do it again. The battle has to be fought indefinitely. And maybe when I cross the finish line of 1,000,000 words, I’ll just keep going, and keep going, and keep going. Maybe that’s what’s best. Or maybe not. But I can’t possibly know that in advance. That’s part of what keeps life interesting.
But so I guess the takeaway from all of that is– it’s very necessary to have constant revision, constant reviews, constant reevaluation. We don’t need to be utterly mired in them, spending every moment reflecting and never acting. Rather, action and reflection need to happen in a back and forth cycle. Yin and yang, day and night. We need to sleep every night so that our brains can recover, rest, reconsolidate our memories and so on. It makes sense that this process needs to happen at larger intervals too. Daily patterns, weekly patterns, monthly, quarterly, yearly and so on. I’ve talked about my intent to do this before but I still haven’t quite found a system that works well for me. I guess again these vomits sort of function as a recurring review, but they often seem to be too little, and not substantial enough… maybe I’m being too hard on myself. If so, that’s something I need to let go of. My current experience is colored by my lack of sleep. Once I’m done with this I’m going to really relax and stretch out and enjoy a good night’s rest.
But what else? Is there anything beyond the reminder of the need for revision and refactoring? Um. Not really. I guess I still somehow find meditation a little silly, I still hold myself back from making the videos that I feel like making because I feel like I’m not good enough, and there are all sorts of other things I’m probably unnecessarily self-conscious about. Rather than strive for some sort of perfection, I should strive just to be honest with myself, just to be present and to pay attention to what needs doing, how things are flowing, and give in to all of that. Give in to gravity and let it pull me and swing me around. Sounds a bit cheesy but I think there’s a truth to that.
I’ve made progress. I don’t feel like I’m completely on top of my life, and maybe to some degree I’ll never totally feel that way. But before and now, I feel like there are thresholds that can be crossed. I already crossed one important threshold in the past– the “everything is a crisis” threshold. I recognize now that that’s bad and unhealthy, and that I should take care of business before it becomes “serious” or “critical” (quotes because in a sense nothing is really serious, nothing is really critical, everything is one big cosmic joke and we’re afraid to laugh).
I guess if I want to remind myself of one thing, it would be what Alan Watts said about the addiction to control. When we let go of the obsessive need to control, and in parallel I think an obsessive need to play the roles and parts that we’ve inherited, then I think we have more energy to ACTUALLY do the work that ACTUALLY matters. I believe this to be true, I believe I have felt fragments of it before, and I’m going to hold on to that and focus on that until it becomes a part of my everyday life. That’s something worthy to fight for.