Monday, June 8, 2009

Less is still too much

I know y'all find this hard to believe, but sometimes, just sometimes, I over-extend myself. Not physically, universe forbid -- I can't imagine myself consciously agreeing to take on any more than the barest minimum requirement of physical movement -- but mentally.

See, when I get hit with a case of Shiny, everything seems bright and new, the world suddenly full of possibility. Let's see... hey, how about walking a mile every day! Wouldn't that be a cool project? And I'll bake all my own bread, and hey, becoming a fiction writer looks like fun, too. I can join a writers group and take a bunch of free classes; hey, they're online, it'll be easy! A group photo project that lasts a year? Sure, why not! And I can start blogs about everything and post every day! And all those boxes in the basement can be sorted, and the garage? No problem! And sure, I can list all of those books we don't want anymore on Amazon. Oooo -- it's time to get ready to plant tomatoes, too, so why don't we redo the whole back yard?

Then, inevitably, something like real life happens. A couple of unforeseen diagnoses, some other random crap. Shit adds up. The generous flow of mental energy starts to come out of the tap a little discolored.

Then, say, maybe my back goes out and I lose a week of work (where they're already looking askance at me for taking off three times a week for months on end) followed immediately by unexpectedly traumatic surgery on the head of someone dear to my heart. And oh, by the way? Then some little shit at day care breaks all of Young Son's favorite pencils, sending him to school in tears.

The flow of mental energy produces chunks of that rusty stuff, sputters, then slows to a sandy trickle that smells of sulfur.

Or something like that.

Having gone through this (OK, not exactly this) scenario repeatedly over the decades has finally taught me that resistance is futile, and trying to push through can only result in a more spectacular and comprehensive form of failure. The only recourse is to circle the wagons, marshal remaining resources, reduce-reuse-recycle, cut the line, and pull in the sails.

That means unsubscribing from half of the bazillion blogs I'm currently following, shut down many of my own blogs, abandoning recent projects, and in general, losing as much self-imposed pressure as possible.

Because, I'm embarrassed to admit, most of the pressure in my life is indeed self-imposed.

Oh, I'll still be here, since this is cheaper and easier to fit in to my schedule than therapy, but just about everything else is being shed like a greyhound's coat during 4th of July fireworks. So for now I'm booting the PC of my life into Safe Mode -- loading only the minimal set of drivers needed to get the system up. It ain't pretty, but at least I can get the stuff off my hard drive before it fails completely.

Although I have no idea how the last part of that metaphor applies to anything so I'll just shut up now.


  1. We're counting on your for IoM 2010. The "South of the Sweet Tea Line"* has begun the plotting, er, planning stages.

    *You know you're really in the south when you go to a restaurant and your iced tea comes already sweetened. Mason-Dixon line? Bah!

  2. Wow...that's gonna leave a mark! A big ole 2 X 4 up side my head. This hits home for me...and I am currently avoiding some serious commitments with a lot of this kind of "shiny" stuff. But it is part of who I am I think...I just have to find a balance.

    For me last week it came to a head and I pretty much unplugged from the grid...totally from the work grid and mostly at home too (except for the occasional checking on a friend I'll call Mr. Sponge B square pants.) But that wasn't the answer either. For me I think it lies in finding the elusive yin and yang...a balance of life. Occasionally I have to do something like this...a few years ago while in grad school the pressure built up and I did nothing...result a heart event. For me the search for balance continues...but maybe that search is my new "shiny"???

    But with lines like, "The flow of mental energy produces chunks of that rusty stuff, sputters, then slows to a sandy trickle that smells of sulfur." I'll be here. After all it's therapy for us too!

  3. Danny: Oh, I hear ya! I think my biggest problem is that the balance point keeps shifting. I'm starting to suspect there is no such thing as 'the' balance, only a balance that works OK for now. Journey, not goal; process, not product. I hate shit like that.


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