In this endless game of choose-your-own-apocalypse, its easy to forget that the world was a struggle before 2020. As I was wading through the waters of my Google Drive I found these notes from October 2019, and was reminded. I’ve decided to share them, both as an opportunity to explore this as a time capsule moment, and because I don’t have any other content to use in its place, given how busy I am with my day job right now.
Screw it, I’m just going to start writing. I wasn’t sure how to start this post without sounding pretentious, so I kept doing that thing where I typed half a sentence, sighed, and pressed the backspace key with fervour.
This is why I like writing things out longhand.
The simple truth of it is that I haven’t been writing on this blog as much, which is unfortunate, because I really like writing content for this platform. Honestly I just like writing in general, as it is one of my favorite forms of entertainment, and it is one that I can do when in solitude, and in times of introspection. The thing about my writing lately, however, is that it has mostly taken the form of Harry Potter fanfiction (which is a perfectly legitimate medium!) and that isn’t really content that I want to post on this platform because that’s what AO3 is for.
Back when I was in school, it was much easier to find fodder for content on this website because I’ve dedicated this blog to mostly academic pursuits. Nowadays, however, I’m not at all focused on academics in my daily life, instead living out my childhood dream of working in an office and alternating tasks between answering the phone, synthesizing data across spreadsheets, and filing records alphabetically in reverse chronological order. And to a certain extent, I miss school, and not just because it was a source to mine for content, but because in many ways it nurtured my spirit and my intellect in ways that the “real world” just isn’t doing right now.
I’ve been trying to think of ways that I can continue my education, now that I am no longer in school, and in classes where syllabi are laid in front of me, attending lectures where professors are trying to teach me how to think. I’ve decided that the solution is to try to cultivate for myself my own kind of syllabus, because as much as I admire academic institutions, I also like to think I have a healthy amount of distrust of them, and I don’t think that one needs to be attending class to learn. I just have to figure out what way of learning outside the classroom works for me, and start doing it.
The thing of it is, there is just so little time. It’s astonishing to realize, and I suppose I’ve always known to some degree, but never truly felt it before, how little time there seems to be to get anything done these days. To do lists seem insurmountable, and there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish every goal I set out to do. When I crunch the numbers I have to sadly realize that I have over 100 books on my to be read list, and I doubt I will ever read all of them. I have 2494 episodes in my podcast queue, and there’s no way I’ll listen to every single one of them. Time is my biggest enemy.
(Somewhat akin to the old saying, I feel as though my second biggest enemy is myself.)
The saying that no plan survives first contact with the enemy might be a bit extreme when applied to my case, but it certainly seems to me as though I’m running in a race where I can never catch up.
I think that perhaps I am in danger of mixing metaphors again. Oh well.
The point is, life has a way of escaping the plans that we set out for it, whether that means someone stole your rent check, or that a painting fell down in the middle of the night and the sound of shattering glass woke you up and kept you up until just half an hour before the morning alarm went off. All the same, just because life escapes our plans, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have plans. To that end, I’ve gone about setting up a series of goals for myself going forward, on a flexible scale, just so that I have a rough idea of what I want things to look like. And I know, trust me I know that curveballs come when we least expect them, which is why I
I started to think that the world had it out for me a long time ago, but then I realized that the world didn’t really care, and that was, in fact, the actual problem. The only real way to improve my life was to improve my perspective and the choices that I made about my life. I’ve been trying to work my way past my demons, but I call them that for a reason. They’re annoyingly persistent. It seems as though whenever I find the root of one problem in my life and begin to solve it, I find another. And I feel as though with enough time I could solve it all, but I don’t, and so things remain forever unsettled in tiny ways, shifting in how they discomfort me and those around me.
Granted, there are many who live in much more dire situations than what I would call ‘discomfort.’ Often I think about the ways in which I am complicit in the suffering of others, and the ways in which others are complicit in my suffering. The mindset of cognitive dissonance I have lived within for the majority of my life makes it hard for me to conceptualize the ways in which my life has harmed others, and sometimes I feel as though I have done more harm than good. And what is good, anyway? Life isn’t a zero sum game, but the numbers are never even either. If anything, they are grossly disproportionate and nearly imperceptibly so, and it’s often too late to see how until the damage is done.
But I digress.
Whenever I take steps to make my life better, the first one is always to examine what consequences my actions will have outside of myself. I do this as someone who cares for the welfare of others, as an empath who cannot bear suffering without suffering themself, and also as a realist who knows they will be chewed up if other people get the receipts.
Sometimes just getting out of bed in the morning feels like a herculean task, which contrasts with the days when I spring out of bed like a cork popping out of a bottle. Sometimes writing pours out onto the page like a fountain drink and others it refuses to come out of me like crystallized honey stuck in a jar, or that last bit of syrup at the bottom of a bottle. That’s how it’s been trying to write lately, honestly. I’d say it’s like pulling teeth, but I’m not a dentist, so I don’t actually know what pulling teeth is like, which is why I went for the food metaphors. Now I’m hungry.
I’m digressing again, aren’t I?
The point I’m trying to get at, if there is one (which I think there is, actually) is that my life isn’t really what I expected or even wanted it to be, and I’m constantly struggling and striving to get to a point of satisfaction. This is the part of the essay where I insert a platitude about things being about the journey and not the destination or whatever, and I suppose that’s true because if I’m being frank, the destination we’re all heading for is death, and I’d rather postpone that for me and mine for as long as possible. But my journey is complicated, and while I don’t exactly wish for a simpler life (mostly because I’m not sure that’s exactly quantifiable?) I do want to reach a point where the days that don’t feel like a fight aren’t mutually exclusive with the days where I shut out the rest of existence and parts of myself. A state of equilibrium, one should say, is what I am seeking out.
I think that’s a fair goal, don’t you?