0664 – tidy up after yourself

I was feeling pretty weird and shitty for a few weeks – not an all-encompassing shitty, just a sort of background shitty. And today I took a few hours to really go through my Things (to-do list app) and to go through my various blogs and sites, and I took some time to tidy them up and clean them out. It felt quite therapeutic.

It’s funny how that is. Like, I know that all of this is going on inside my head. But it seems like there are some things that I can sort of forget and then not care about, while there are other things that gnaw at me if I haven’t done anything about them in a while. Writing is one of them. Cleaning out my todo list system is another one of them. [1]

So, let’s retrace my steps here. I know that I want to be happy and fulfilled. To have a clear-headed mind free of guilt. And what I’m learning, at least for the time being, is that I can’t quite just wish it all away, I can’t quite delude myself into thinking everything’s fine. I think this is a common theme that I used to talk about – how basically my mid-20s have been a lot about me feeling sorry for myself, and me trying to be evasive and avoidant about the nature of my reality. I face up to the reality of my situation in small doses, and then runaway from it as soon as I can. But this is unsustainable and leads to misery. It’s a sort of… it’s kind of lying being dependent on substances. You can kind of enjoy them for some period of time, but eventually that phase passes. And you need to resolutely say goodbye to the person you used to be, to the life you previously had, and recognize that there’s more.

Yes. This is the thing that is happening. I may be lucky to be married, and to have a job with colleagues that I love, and to have a home, and to still have my parents, and cats, and on all of those fronts my life has been atypically stable. Everything has been “normal day” for me, before the Fire Nation attacked. But all of this is an illusion. I’m clinging on to my sort of happy fantasy, that everything is okay and everything is good and everything will be like this forever. I know intellectually that this isn’t true, but something in my subconscious clings to it. And this clinging isn’t just to the good things, but to whatever is familiar. So even my patterns of guilt and shame and things that I dislike, my subconscious keeps going back to those scripts, keeps playing those things on repeat. It’s like I’m stuck in one phase of a video game and refusing to trigger the event that would lead to the next phase – because I know that I can’t go back.

It’s kind of funny, when you formulate something so simply. But it’s the great trap of life, isn’t it? Nirvana is about exhaling, about letting go. About the absence of attachment and clinging. And I have seen how clinging has worked out for some people. I have seen old men who are really scared little boys trying to get validation, trying to get approval, trying to feel good about themselves, who are living with layers upon layers of anger and frustration and suffering. I want to be free of all of that. I want to shake all of that shit off. Or at least, lots of that shit off.

I learned a few weeks ago that I still have some weird responses wired into me from my childhood. I have a habit of freezing up in the presence of conflict. I go quiet and avoid saying anything – which is an odd change from talking so much all the time. The same is probably true for my writing. I write and write and write as a way of trying to achieve something, trying to cling on to something. I wrote about it yesterday, I think – that I write in a sort of performance of remembrance – I’m hoping that things I write will be like buoys in a sea of darkness for me, that I’ll be able to return to my old writing and be supported by it. I’m hoping that my writing is like an Iron Man suit for my consciousness. I think so far I’m about 60/40 on that. The writing itself is just a process, a discipline. Some people perform tea ceremonies. I write.

Anyway. So I was feeling some background anxiety lately about things that were left undone, and so I got around to doing stuff about them, and I feel better now. Now the important thing is to finish up this vomit, bathe and then go to bed, and then wake up early and go to work as early as I can and start doing as much work as I can. It’s really that simple. I overcomplicate things sometimes. And I don’t know why sometimes it takes me so long to return to the basic principles that I know are what I need. I have a checklist. It’s almost like I secretly sort of enjoy feeling a little anxious and miserable from time to time. And that’s probably because of some sort of fear of crossing the next threshold. I’m clinging on to who I am in order to avoid who I want to become. This is itself a sort of violence. I need to let go.


[1] At a more physical level, shaving, getting haircuts and trimming my nails all are similar – if I leave them unattended for too long, I start getting a little uncomfortable. It’s interesting to think about why this is, and how it works. I think I would be fine letting everything grow out if I was living in some sort of feral environment – like if I were on a hippie commune of some kind. But as long as I’m going to work every day, hanging out in civilization, I feel strange if I’m not well-groomed. I suppose that’s a social thing. We’re wired to take dressing from social cues. Even if there’s nobody else in the room.

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