I just woke up from a shitty dream. I’m not sure how it started (dreams usually begin in the middle, right?) but involved me having to re-take examinations that I had flunked. I retook my… PSLE, I believe? And maybe did well. I remember getting into a cab and going to my secondary school again, maybe to ask if they’ll take me back. I’m not sure why I was retaking my PSLE. I remember thinking- I did well for E-maths but poorly for A-maths the last time, and even if I do well for A maths this time I’m going to have some trouble with H2 maths for my A levels- and I’m married and I have a house and I have bills to pay and I don’t have time to do all these things, to get all these things right. I felt like an absolute failure, like I was wasting all this time and everybody’s money and resources and it just felt really, really horrible. I woke up almost in tears.
Now I find myself thinking- why? Why does this keep happening? Why is this such a big deal to me? And I’m reminded of another conversation I had with somebody about how- for the longest time I thought none of this mattered to me. I didn’t think it was an issue for me, I thought I had successfully ignored it, avoided it, not cared about it. But it turns out that underneath it all I do care. I actually care about a lot of things very deeply. Most things, even.
There’s this thing happening in my neighbourhood right now where a Resident’s Committee is surveying people about whether they’d like their community cats “removed”. What the actual fuck. We’re such disgusting human beings. And then I zoom out and remind myself that that’s just one thing that’s happening. There are literally millions of such despicable things happening everyday- people getting raped, murdered, tortured, battered, abused, all sorts of horrible devastation. And I’m never going to be able to put a dent in any of that. All I can do is focus on my own circle of control/influence and seek to expand that, so I can at least maybe make some people better off by a little bit before I die, and before we all return to sand and become nothing in the heat death of the universe.
Maybe that’s projecting too far. I don’t know. I can’t know. All I can know and work on is me. And I think I’ve worked myself into a bit of a cramp, and I need to uncramp myself with meditation and breathing and relaxation and warm showers. I need to realize that it’s okay to fail, and that it’s okay for the whole thing to fall apart, because everything does fall apart in the end, and yet I need to put in the effort to get things right. I need to focus and prioritize and manage my time, work backwards, do first things first, be proactive, realize the distinction between productive and busy, yadda yadda. I’m faking it till I make it, and I do believe that I’ll make it eventually. I just seem to have this need right now at this moment to wallow in a sort of self-pity and self-disgust and I’d like to get over that pretty quickly if I may, please.
I didn’t take any vacation days this year. I don’t mean that as some sort of brag. That’s just stupid and self-damaging. It’s really failure of prioritization and self-management on my part. But I gotta let that go and let myself be okay with that. I can’t keep beating myself up over sunk costs. All of this is a manifestation of a disease that I can always, at any moment, take immediate steps to fix. It’s just that those steps are always the hardest, the most painful, the ugliest. It’s easy to bitch and whine and cry and hurt about how all of this is. I read somewhere about failure in silicon valley and how failure ain’t actually all that bad. I’m not being precise enough- by that I mean to say that it’s easier to lapse into drunkenness and to blow away all your money and to destroy your marriage than it is to sit down and fix things. And yeah I’m thoroughly aware of the alternate POVs and how sometimes you just need to let things go, sometimes it’s okay to fail,
Clearly that bunny trail is a clusterfuck that’s difficult to explore and clarify, because rationalization kicks it. The narrativistic bias kicks in. Explanation kicks in. And while that requires effort, it’s relatively easy, and it keeps you in that same space that you’re in. It finds you the most comfortable spot in the cave. The real challenge is to leave the cave. Or if the language of challenges and difficulty sounds overly self-flagellating, well, the real joy is to leave the cave. The real pleasure. The real happiness. If I want that I have to do the things that fix the problems that I have. Quitting smoking was part of it. Quitting social media was part of it. These things were unique to me, and may not necessarily apply to anybody else. I can and should learn from others but really I just need to do the most important work that’s in front of me, that I’m constantly putting off.
I’m fine, really. All of this is just the messy midpoint before I burst forth with clarity, happiness and joy. I truly believe that. I truly believe that I’m coming out of a funk that I hadn’t quite realized for what it was. And that moving forward, I’m going to be more disciplined. I’m going to take charge of my life. I’m going to do first things first, and I’m going to work backwards from what matters. I’m going to be a lot smarter about things, and I’m going to change my strategies and the way I play. This is just a bit of a learning blip. I truly believe this. And I’m truly going to fix this. There is literally nothing more important.
“Take it easy, but take it.”