I’m beginning to feel useless again. Or is it powerless that I feel?
I suppose I have some uses around here – mostly it’s manual labor at the instructions of the other people around here. Even that doesn’t manage to take up much time. Perhaps its a form of nihilism I’m slipping into.
You see, I know (sometimes) that I probably ought to be spending more time working on self-directed, self-motivated projects such as building furniture, which would theoretically result in the income that I need. But … there are things going on around here… it’s not likely that there will be an easy way for me to continue making furniture after a couple of months, or to sell it (though the selling hasn’t been going well so far with things the way they are now), and the whole thing, learning to make and making furniture, trying to sell the furniture, all of it just seems so futile. So I’m putting some time and some effort into it, but … certainly not as much as I would if I felt my time was being well spent.
And because I know I probably ought to be self-motivating, working on furniture projects I’ve invented somehow, working on property-clearing projects I don’t have any proper instructions for, something… I spend hours every day just puttering about, not doing anything. I have my own personal projects to do, art projects and writing projects and … heck, cleaning and reading books and re-working Modern Evil and completing a couple/few comics I’ve got in the works and working on that correspondence course I haven’t touched in an age, and … and I feel bad about doing any of those things because I feel like I ought to be doing proper “work” instead. But I don’t often have instructions for work to do, and the apparent futility of the furniture-building makes it nye-impossible to self-motivate… so I can’t get myself to work and I can’t get myself to do what I like to do either, and I end up not getting anything done, and then just feeling worse because another 24 hours, another 168 hours, and so on and so on goes by and what do I have to show for it?
Irritable bowels. Tension. Pain. You would have trouble believing the odors my ass has been producing tonight, the pains my intestines have been giving me these recent days and weeks and months. And it’s so easy to say it’s the food, or a bug going around, but I tend to believe it’s the stress.
And then I use a word like “Stress” and I feel worse than before because what do I have to be stressed out about? I don’t pay rent, or utilities, or car payments. I don’t even buy my own food most of the time. The only bills I have are debt payments from some poor decisions I made years ago. And so far they’ve stayed paid, though I haven’t looked for a job since I moved up here. And I have food and shelter and clothes and warmth on cold nights. And I have entertainments upon entertainments, music and movies and satellite TV and the internet. How can I use a word like “stress” to describe something like my life? I don’t deserve such words, it seems, and every time I find myself using them I feel worse.
I’ve been trying to keep charts… calendars, really, but in reverse. I’ve never had much use for calendars into the future – I usually don’t know what I’m going to be doing next week or next month or next year besides the same-old-same old until the last minute when whoever’s in charge deigns to tell me. But calendars into the past, I’ve always thought there was some use there if I could just harness it.
So, for instance, I started tracking how many hours I sleep each night. Using the fancy-pants OS X application iCal (which is designed to be one of those future-looking calendars, I believe) I’ve actually been putting in the actual hours I sleep each night/morning for over a couple of months now. I can see, graphically, how my slumber moves around the hours of the day, and fluctuates in size. I had originally started doing this on a calendar I’d put together to track my Bowflex progress. But … I basically haven’t been doing any exercise, so … this month (Triober) when I put together the calendar in Excel I re-worked it again. Now I have fields for each day of the month for noting how much time I spent sleeping, working on furniture, working on art, and writing. Plus, two little spaces to note whether I took a shower, and whether I exercized. (I have devised simple codes to say whether I did Yoga or Bowflex or something else in the space provided.) So far this month (it’s the early morning of 344 as I write this, so it’s nearly two-thirds of the way through the month) it appears I’ve spent about 144.5 hours sleeping, about 12 hours working on art (actually, most of that was spent drilling holes. For an art project), about 12 hours working on furniture, and only 3 hours working on writing (I wrote the first draft of one of ten short stories for the anthology I’m working on). Looks like I did 40 minutes of Yoga one morning ten days ago, and have taken two showers (though I meant to take another shower today, and will likely have one tomorrow when I get up).
For those of you who don’t get off on math and spreadsheets like I do, that averages out to 8 hours of sleep a night, forty minutes each on art and furniture a day, ten minutes a day on writing, a shower every nine days (though if I shower in the morning it’ll be about a shower every 6 days), and effectively no exercise at all.
Well, I guess Focus On: Art isn’t going too poorly; I’m spending as much time working on art as I am working on the only thing around here that has real potential (::coughcough::) to earn money. And not spending too much time actually writing (though time spent working on the cover and editing of Dragons’ Truth is not included in that number, since I wasn’t actually “writing”), which was one of the goals of the whole Focus On thing.
But do you see how my time has been spent? Half an hour, up to a couple of hours in a day working on furniture or sometimes art, then days at a time where almost nothing gets done. Maybe I should figure out how to track time spent setting about the place, thinking about getting things done without actually accomplishing anything. Not time spent reading books or watching movies or actually doing things online, just all the hours I spend literally not doing anything but thinking about getting things done. I suspect it would be in close competition with sleeping.
Maybe I should start tracking how often I have gastrointestinal discomfort, while I’m at it.
Looking at the calendar for Ichiebmer (two months ago) which tracked sleep and work (not art and writing) and which only shows two showers, it looks like I spent 21 hours working on furniture (which is more, on average, than this month so far by two minutes a day) and 222.75 hours sleeping (with two days not reporting) for an average of very nearly 8 hours a night. Oh, and I worked out on the Bowflex on two different days. Which means that for what I’m tracking here, there is no real change from last month to this month. I’m not working more or less on furniture, not sleeping more or less, on average, each night, and not showering much more so far. Oh, and my weight hasn’t moved out of the 214 to 220 range in over two years, so that’s not really changing either.
(Okay, okay, yes. What about Remember, last month? 3 showers, 3 hours worked on furniture (if these numbers are to be believed), 206.5 hours slept (with 4 days not reporting) for an average of just under 8 hours a night. Which, yes, means I didn’t get much done on furniture last month. I wonder what I was doing instead. Probably the same old nihilism I’m feeling now, except this month my father is taking a little initiative to get furniture done and provising me with partial instructions to follow. Sigh.)
Aren’t statistics and numbers and things fun to play with? I think so. Like I said, calendars never really worked for me into the future, but they always made sense for looking into the past. So if I cross-reference my lack of drive to work with my lack of drive to post last month, I can see that maybe everything wasn’t peachy-keen.
Anyway, I’ve got to get to bed soon. I’ll probably sleep around 8 hours, which means that if I go to bed now I won’t be up until around 11. It takes me around an hour (minimum) to get around and get myself ready to face the day (most of this is emotional), so no one will see me until lunchtime, it seems. Later if I write any more of this tonight, or read any more of The Confusion. So straight to sleep for me it is. And perhaps in the morning a shower (which should set me back to before noon unless I take a little less sleep), and then perhaps I’ll try to get myself to get working.
Anyone have some advice that gets through nihilism and futility that could help me self-motivate? Or maybe you’re hiring for some job that doesn’t require me to interact with humans or set my own schedule – I’m good within structured environments. Start time, stop time, job description. Without that, I tend to work way too long or not at all. Like these posts. I write too much or nothing, it seems. Here’s one of the ones that goes on too long.