Happy 4th of July Y’all! Clearly I’ve been less than dedicated to this journal, always a clear indication that I’ve been drifting, or more to the point that I didn’t want to admit my drifting. I’ll always be honest with you here, which from time to time means fessing up to less than stellar behavior. Of course, the huge gaps in my journal entries point to the bad habit of not wanting to admit what a slacker I’ve been. I’ve lamented in the past that I’d prefer to be a heroin addict or alcoholic, to simply being lazy if for no other reason than it would make me seem more tortured (and would be a neat explanation for these fallow phases that recur in my life). Alas, what I’m most guilty of is ambiguous thinking. I know too well that if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re never late, and you’re never a failure (in that you’re never in the game at all). Knowing and doing are different creatures; one fluffy, soft and poisonous the other hard, muscular and unpredictable (like an unbroken horse).
A Brief Overture
Saying I’ve been lazy isn’t exactly accurate, what I’ve been is distracted and mentally weak. This is not self-excoriation, just an accurate description, we’re all weak it’s just how we deal with it that distinguishes us one from another. I fell victim to grandiose thinking, specifically that the job I accepted wasn’t “good” enough, and that I should terminate and chalk it up to a “poor fit”. In my mind, the resulting job search would last nine-ish months, a time where I’d be able to put a proper end to my sabbatical (finish the third novel I’m working on, shake the existential ennui I’d felt with the death and illness of others). These are certainly excuses, not reasons, but experiencing the feelings doesn’t bother me, it’s letting them live too long. I’m the victim of ease, success and material surplus. Which, at its core, is hilarious. I share this with you as a warning, that we people will turn ANYTHING into an excuse to avoid taking responsibility. A week ago, I decided I’d had enough, and started making some decisions, and – shocker – I’ve been feeling great ever since.
“Decisions are life, the more decisions you make the more alive you feel. The fewer decisions you make, the more dead.” I heard this somewhere, and it stuck with me, because it’s so provably true. Try it. Take a day and make zero decisions, and see how you feel. Then take a day, and frame everything as a decision – I’m deciding to get out of bed, I’m deciding to go to work, I’m deciding to eat, etc. and see how you feel. It’s powerful. All the more powerful when you make decisions based on creating a life you want to lead. Based on the person you want to be, to yourself, to others. When I get into an ambiguous head-space, it’s a safe bet I’ll do fewer things because I can’t do everything I want. It’s a messed up mind game where doing what I can is meaningless because it doesn’t live up to the great things I imagine I could be doing. Again, hilarious. Taking action on even the most trivial of things feels so much more powerful than all the narcissistic thinking you’ll ever do. My ambitions are simple – better physical health as measured by body weight and strength, consistent (measurable) progress on my novel, being a valuable contributor in my workplace, making time for those I love, and having fun (which I tend not to do when I’m not doing the other). I looked at my life and saw I needed to make some dramatic time shifts and sacrifices to accomplish these goals, and after some internal whining (but it’s hard!) I’ve made the decision to make it happen. I’ll keep you posted on how well I muscle through.
I was going to call this section “Commitment” but I liked the alliteration in the post headline, but you get the drift. You can make all the decisions you want but if they’re not backed up with dedication and commitment to action, it’s just the narcissistic mental masturbation I referenced above. My go-to example from my life was when I decided to never be in debt, it took ten years to accomplish, but only a second to decide – but in that second I had such clarity, such an understanding that all my failed attempts in the past meant nothing, such an understanding of the freedom it would bring – that the decision was easy. One decision, ten years of action to accomplish. This is what commitment is, not “I think I want to do this good thing, I’m going to try”, but instead “I’m going to”. Weasel words like “try”, “should”, “think”, “want” are red flags that you’ll fail, and if you want proof, just listen to some knuckle head talk about how they “think they should try to quit drinking”. Sorry, this wasn’t supposed to be a rah-rah paragraph on the power of dedication, sort of got away from me. I just wanted to make it clear that this funk I’ve been experiencing is a period with no commitment, a whole lot of “try”, and not a lot of “will”. I want to share this because this isn’t a “new” knowledge I’ve gained, I’ve lived many periods of my life where I got all the highs and benefits from commitment, and I still found myself in this trough. Like yoga, meditation, drawing, writing, exercise – any discipline – you can be good at it, then not be good at it if you don’t continue to practice. It’s never too late, and never a bad idea to commit to something you value. Okay, end of sermon!
I referenced experiencing some existential dread earlier, and when this happens it opens me up to a world of “why bother” thinking. And top of the heap of this kind of thinking is paying a lot of attention to the doofuses that surround me. This is destructive primarily because stupid people are a fact of life, like hot pavement in August, and they’re both things you can’t do anything about. You can’t take action to correct stupid people, they like being ignorant, it’s wasted energy. So in my weakened state, witnessing the bizarre political season, the presidential race, mass murders, hue and cry over gun control and abortion laws and the smug, self-satisfied sanctimony of straight-up dummies all over social media really got me questioning the future. Is this a momentary blip where we’ll all snap out of it and start embracing critical thinking? Or are we truly doomed to being the most advanced civilization in history to implode due to willful dumb-assery? It’s not that I disagree with these loathsome cretins, it’s that I can’t agree that their basic premises are worth discussing. Pro-choice/Pro-life, Pro-gun/anti-gun, Left/Right – a pox on all of them. All of us have a responsibility to not simply parrot words and emotions that we’ve absorbed from the zeitgeist then pass them off as our thoughts, but to first understand ourselves then apply that understanding to the beliefs we hold. To understand that respectful disagreement will tend to get us further than harmonious agreement. But first, you must accept the responsibility to respect the humanity of others, you can’t have civil disagreement with someone you hate/disrespect/vilify. And I fear we may have gone too far in hating “opponents” – because we’ve staked out childish concepts of right and wrong in a world where neither exist in nature, it’s strictly a fantasy we create to make ourselves feel superior to others.
Well, I’m done thinking about this collapse of Civilization. I’ll do what I can, which isn’t a lot, but like any drug addict, unless they arrive at the decision to stop (being a dummy) on their own, no amount of logic or argument will cause change. I need to get my own house in order, clean up my emotional ecosystem (I’ve got some energy vampires that need staking), and commit to what I control, and what I value.
Yikes, I didn’t mean to get this preachy, but it’s been a few months not being on my high horse and it feels good to vent. I’ll keep it under control next time! Thanks for reading, and as always I implore you to pursue a life where you are both kind, and excellent.