I’ve been looking at the calendar recently…incredulously.
“A year has past, really? What have I done with myself?”
That’s an honest question. Some might laugh; very good friends of mine remind me that I have a lot going on all the time. I got a new job. More importantly, I quit an old job that was going to kill me. I’ve already talked about all of this. But what about me…that interior part of me?
When I started taking stock, I noticed that many of my good old friends were becoming invisible or blandly colorless: my imagination, my sense of wonder, my personality. I was in a book store with a friend when I became horrified to realize it had been almost a year since I really read a book for fun (“really reading” defined as absorbing and comprehending most of the elements on every page. This is counterpoint to “skimming for school” which means scanning every fifth page to deduce how far we are into some banal argument about something I could usually care less but is considered “important.” Imagine reading fiction that way. Well, that’s what I was doing). I actually said the words I find I just can’t tolerate fiction anymore.
What, what?!?! When did my soul die?
I began to see that what I could list off were essentially tasks, albeit big ones. They changed conditions in which I was hovering but they did little permanent for peace of mind, growth, and evolution. Those sound pretentious but I worry about them regularly. When one has a basically solitary life like mine, punctuated by some things fun and some things meaningful but existing mainly of long stretches of time that I, myself, have to define, meaning can become secondary to things like lying on the couch and binge watching The Leftovers or entering the tenuous road of making a decision: Should I go to the grocery store? Three hours later, “I should probably think on this a little more.”
I needed to start trying again for some kind of personal growth and not just the accumulation of tasks and things. It’s hard to push for that, though, when the entire world around says you are absolutely made of your tasks and things.
Theory: This is why the “list management” page on the App store has 13000 products in it. We’re losing hold on the ability to see and interpret meaning in our own lives. This is one of the symptoms of late-stage capitalism, by the way.
I needed to start slicing through all of the “weeds” that keep me from doing interesting things, having interesting thoughts, and feeling like I’m not just ticking days off on a calendar. I have to have something to show for myself when I start to look back on these times. I don’t want to ever wonder what I did all year….let alone all life. And when I began to examine those weeds, they are comprised of waste: wasted time, wasted talent, wasted attention, wasted opportunities.
And so I started a course toward less waste of all kinds…but without a check list. This is not something to say I’ve done. This is something to examine as I move through…I don’t even know what done looks like.
It’s uncomfortable. But usually discomfort means something.