I have come to a point in my thinking where I no longer know for sure whether the things that I quit doing are worth staying away from, and whether the things i have begun doing are worth continuing doing. Mostly because I cannot remember the reasons I decided to do/stop doing a lot of them. Some of them (like finding an appropriate, regular workout regimen to develop upper body strength and maintain a healthy body), I can remember the reasons for. Others seem more tricky.
I am thinking about one in particular lately, because of a recent phenomenon I have noticed lately in my daily routine. The pattern is that my body seems to want to sleep a lot. A lot more than it used to. It seems to want to sleep a lot more than is average, too. If my body got what it wanted; if I had no responsibilities & the utilities & food & stuff I need provided to me without obligation, I would likely sleep around 14 hours out of every 24. Since I know that before I quit caffeine over a year ago that I was sleeping an average of 3-5hrs/night, and able to be productive during the day and long into the night as well, this seems ridiculous to me.
Then again, what would I fill my time with? At this time I do not have a WindowsPC, so I cannot play all the computer games I have bought over the last 6 months (with the exception of Myst III: Exile. I played that one on my Mac on Saturday night, and I am confident that I will have completed the game by the end of whatever the next night that I sit down to play it is. Very challenging, very entertaining, very beautiful, but … all the games in this series seemed shorter than people made them out to be. I finished Myst in one night, and I stopped half-way to go out for several hours). I am very shortly about to run out of new network television to watch (Though theoretically Farscape, etc. will keep me entertained on Fridays and Queer As Folk on Sundays, I do not know what else to look forward to. New episodes of South Park?) and as soon as Iain moves into his condo, I won’t even have the DC or PS2 as options.
Certainly there are other things to fill my time. I’m a little behind on my ironing this week, but I can only do laundry and the dishes for so long. I can only spend entire days weeding the yard a few times before there just aren’t any weeds left to pull. I can only take a few hours to steam-clean the carpets every so often, or I’ll just wear them out. Heck. I don’t do any of this stuff right now. That same thing I wrote about before about not being able to get things done unless everyone is gone (and not expected back soon) or it’s the middle of the night; except I can’t steam-clean, vacuum or mow the lawn in the middle of the night.
I certainly have plenty of other projects to work on. I seem to have taken to writing quite a bit into this (now very familiar) little window. I have a new idea for a novel that I actually think I’ll be able to write rolling around in my head, trying to figure the right moment to start working its way out. (It has a story and characters and everything. I think. I’ll see what I get when it actually makes an appearance on paper somewhere.) I am literally in the middle of at least 5 paintings, two of which I actually know what I want to do with and feel capable of doing (one of which is down to annoying, repetitive painting that will take 8-10hrs to paint the ONE remaining color, damn design,), so I could work on those. I have to learn how the piece of software I’m using now to post this works from the inside out, so I can re-work it to do what I want – it very nearly does what I want, but the basic premise of it is different from the premise of what I want to accomplish. I also have to learn the DOM and CSS-1 and CSS-2 so I can put together the site design I have in mind for this very website. I think it will look very good, and I’m looking forward to looking at it completed, but I have to re-learn everything I know about how to put together a web page to do it and be standards-compliant, so … there’s that. I have a new project on the side that I’m working on that will literally take months of slow dedication to complete (and which is secret and personal, so I’m not saying what it is, just that I’ll be working on it for several hours/week for no less than all summer, and likely the next year or two).
That’s just off the top of my head, and just projects that I consider a purely creative endeavor. I also have things to do like figure out how/when to go back to school, actually go back to school, work 40+hrs/week, etc. that take up plenty of time & may never be completed. Or figuring out what I’m looking for in a mate, and why it is that I want to mate, and what with these things in mind, what qualities I’m looking for in a mate, and with these things in mind what qualities do I want my mate to value in me, and do I have these qualities, and how can I develop them? Or figuring out what “success” means to me.
Is there some level of accomplishment that I feel I need to maintain to feel successful? Is there some goal I need to reach, by which I will measure my success? Is there some moral guideline by which I will decide whether my success justified the actions that led to it? Is there some way for me to know what ideas about success are valid and appropriate, and which are fruitless? If I determine that my success bears on something tangible like money, how will I know when I have enough? If I determine that my success can only be derived from something intangible like love or happiness, will I be able to consider myself successful even when these things wane, for having achieved them at all?
it seems to me that people derive their goals and dreams from their conception of what has value for them, and that success relates directly to achieving these goals and dreams within the context of what they value. For a long time I tried to figure out how people came up with goals, how they decided what they wanted to do, who they wanted to be. I believe I have a very good understanding of that, and I have been able to help people to effectively recognize their own goals and work towards achieving them. What I seem to be concerned with now is trying to figure out how people determine what has value to them.
I realize that economically things’ value is based on their scarcity. The less of a thing there is, or more importantly the less of a thing that people believe there is, the higher value it has compared to less scarce things. Can the same be said of all other values? Are honesty and dignity and loyalty and love valued because there is less of them in the world than lies and shame and selfishness and indifference? If humanity was somehow able to reach a utopian state, would dystopia embody the features that society values? Probably not.
So how do people determine what they value, and what things are valued above other things? Why do some people value loyalty more than money or happiness and others place love above all else? What is used to determine what a person’s core values are? These core values determine how a person will choose goals, and how a person will judge success, and how a person will feel about spending their time and money and efforts completing one task or another. These core beliefs help determine what religions people will be able to align with and what jobs they will be comfortable in and what sorts of people they will be able to spend their lives with.
I feel like I’m reverse engineering life. I always get the nagging suspicion that this was covered in the 1st grade, and if I had just read slower or pretended I hadn’t the capacity to learn that I wouldn’t be so baffled later in life by things like “How can I accomplish my goals?” “What are my goals?” “How do I choose goals?” “What are my core values?” and “How do I choose core values?” … Or maybe it was 8th grade, which I also missed. Either way, I’ve ended up having to take the questions I have, or that I see other people faced with and work backwards to the basic assumptions the questions are based on in order to really have a grasp on what the questions are asking, and I don’t see anyone else doing that. You ask them what their goals are and they can tell you, maybe even produce a list and a calendar with action items explaining how they will accomplish their goals. No waffling or absurdist answers, no soul-searching, because they seem to already have a grasp of the basic assumptions and have moved on the bigger things.
Or maybe they felt they never needed to consider the basic assumptions because their core values were so strongly held that they intuitively knew what sorts of goals they were interested in accomplishing, and skipped the whole of understanding, landing deeply in action instead. It does not seem unreasonable, and may in fact be a better way of doing things. Like being able to punch a number into a calculator and hit the cube-root key and get on with it instead of trying to work out how to derive a cube root and what the significance of a cube-root is and what the basis of exponents are and how multiplication works and why a mathematical system based on a numberline is used and why it might be better or worse than other theorized or undiscovered ways of handling mathematics and covering all the bases in between before being able to approach the answer to the original question.
So, I don’t know. I just … I sometimes lose sight of the questions. I sometimes lose sight of the reason I started out on whatever adventure I’m on. I sometimes lose the motivation to get things done, even if no one is around. Sometimes it feels like no matter what I do, things will go on as they always have. Why think otherwise and be disappointed? Even if my actions do somehow change the way the universe works on a fundamental level, is it conceivable that the effects would be seen in my own lifetime? Doubtful. So maybe I should just sit around and stare at the tube and surf the web and eat cookies and chips & dip and ice cream and drink soda and I’ve got my driver’s license now, so maybe I should just forego the whole bicycling thing and get a beat-up old car and sit on my ass the WHOLE day except for the 14 hours a day that I sleep, right?
So if the reason I feel like it’s okay for me to give up on trying is that I’m feeling less hopeful than usual, then why is one of the things I’m considering giving up “quitting caffeine”? The reason I’ve come up with to resume the consumption of caffeine is to provide myself with more waking hours and presumably the ability to get more things accomplished. I know I had that idea before I noticed feeling less hopeful lately. Maybe I’m feeling less hopeful to get myself into a rut where I do not run constant checks on myself to keep myself “in line” so that I can get back into the habit of consuming caffeine. Except that I still seem to be rational about it; I’ve had a few Mountain Dews lately, but only after discovering that I could get just as much caffeine with Zero calories. The part of my brain that ensures that i don’t go totally overboard and gain back the weight seems to be working fine.
Heck, the part of my brain that is able to write and write and write for hours and hours on end without running out of things to say seems to be working fine too. Look at everything I’ve put on this little site already. Sure, I seem to be limiting the content that goes on the front page quite a bit (I only put a single paragraph of this long tirade out there, and I’m at what? Page 3 or 4?), but there is quite a lot said if you actually take the time to look. I feel al little down, sure, and why not? The end of many things is coming very quickly to a head.
(Two or three months ago, I asked Sara if I could attend her graduation. At the time, she remarked that I could but that she wouldn’t be there. We discussed it and I encouraged her to go, making a few very reasonable, positive arguments about attending graduation, perhaps mentioning my pride in her accomplishment and wanting to see its culmination (having been on the sidelines throughout her HS career). She was certain that she did not have any intention of going, and I don’t ever want to change her mind (though I do want to be sure she knows what she’s chosen), so we didn’t speak of it again until recently. When I asked her off-hand when she would be done with school/graduate, she let me know that her friends (whose decisions appear to not only be more important than mine, but more important than Sara’s) had gone behind her back and invited many of her family members and processed all the paperwork and basically that she was now definitely going to her graduation. And that in her friends’ foresight into what members of her extended family/friends would want to be present, my name did not come up. And your name has to have already been submitted to be allowed to attend. She’s growing up, living her life, and I don’t even get to watch, let alone be a part of it.)
There’s nothing wrong with feeling a little down once in a while, especially during times of loss or separation. Thing is, I’m still hopeful. I can’t stop it. I’m also still thinking clearly, and creative, and able to get things done. I mowed the front lawn the other day and I seem to have clean clothes to wear every day. I’m working on finding a place to live. I seem to feel pretty content overall, and not headed in some sort of downward spiral so much as a what might be considered a “market correction”; I’ve had a lot of positive growth lately and I’ve had high expectations and I’m certainly not at the end of the line, but perhaps a little time to re-evaluate and re-group is warranted to ensure continued healthy growth and contentment.
So, I’ve come to a point in my thinking where I’m re-evaluating whether the things that I’ve quit doing are worth staying away from, and whether the things I have begun doing are worth continuing. I am finding that I do not remember many of the reasons that I initially chose one way or the other, or am not compelled by my reasoning, but am looking forward to being able to put everything back together in working order, even if there are a few parts left over at the end. Engineers always put a few extra parts in, so you’ll have something left over at the end to ponder over.