Along the lines of the "terrible master" thoughts in David Foster Wallace's "This is Water" speech mentioned above, it just seems like humans can sometimes create ideas that then become more real to them than even they themselves. The master creates a servant that is at first pleasing to the master, then useful, then captivating, then conquering, and finally subjugating - the master stuck in a prison of his own making.
A series of examples from my anxiety*:
1) During the winter, the wife gets SAD and me too probably and to help deal with that, I started purchasing season ski tickets so the kids and I would have something fun to do outside while the wife gets some sanity time alone. Great, right? Except, now I HAVE
to go skiing every Saturday. It becomes no longer something I want
to do, it's something I should
2) I feel like going for a bike ride or playing disc golf or going to a concert or some such thing. I go do that thing and I enjoy it. Later, I feel bad that I haven't done it again in too long and I feel like I should
go do that thing again. But I don't want to. And yet the should gnaws at me.
3) I want to shorten my working time and be freer to enjoy life. I analyze my budget and my income trying to minimize and maximize, respectively. I run up against practical, immovable obstacles keeping me from my vision. Rather than accepting what is, I feel like I should
be doing the thing that I can't practically do.
The ideas no longer bring me pleasure but jiujitsu their way into having me serve, and perpetuate, them regardless of their now-negative impact on me. Memetic evolution at work.
* Maybe this is a type of OCD or something.
A somewhat related quote from a very long piece
that was interesting-ish (emphasis mine):
The whining octopus is a reminder of why pure, elated happiness is never a reasonable goal. The times you feel pure happiness are temporary, drug-induced delusions—like the honeymoon phase of a new relationship or new job or the high following a long-awaited success. Those moments are the perfect golf shots of a mediocre golfer’s outing—they’re awesome, and you should enjoy the shit out of them—but they’re not the new normal, and they never will be.
A better goal is contentment: the satisfying feeling that you’re currently taking the best crack you can at a good life path; that what you’re working on might prove to be a piece of an eventual puzzle you can feel really proud of. Chasing happiness is an amateur move. Feeling contentment in those times when your choices and your circumstances have combined to pull it off, and knowing you have all that you could ever ask for, is for the wise.
People talk about being present in the moment, but there’s also the broader concept of macro-presence: feeling broadly present in your own life. If you’re on a career dot that, when you’re being really honest with yourself, feels right, you get to stop thinking and stop planning for a while and just dig in. You’ll come back to the big picture later—for now, you can put the macro picture aside, put your head down, and dedicate all of your energy to the present. For a while, you can just live.
I like that - taking a break from the idea obsession (e.g., "thinking and planning") and just walking the path that has been planned and noticing the unexpected wildflowers along the path that you never noticed before because you were too busy optimizing - looking back analyzing the steps you've taken or looking forward planning the steps that came next. Optimization without true purpose.
In sort-of other news, I went to an Imagine Dragons concert with the family (for free no less! How ERE of me!). It had been maybe a decade since I last went to a big concert (U2 in ~2008). I really enjoyed it. I sort of knew that one or more of the band members were mormons, so I was a little surprised by the lead singer's taking a moment between several songs to say stuff like "this is a safe space for everyone", "we want everyone to be free to be who they are", "don't let anyone put you in a box", "let's break the stigma attached to words like depression, anxiety and therapy - I was depressed and going to therapy was the best decision I've ever made in my life", etc.
It was amazing watching him walk through the crowd and have people wanting to touch him like he was Jesus. They'd touch his outstretched hand and then turn to their friend with a giant smile and a look of amazement or ecstasy on their face. Mostly women, of course, but from young to old, the reaction was the same. I thought about the loftiness of his words and the community-like atmosphere of the shared quasi-religious experience and the "almost magical" reaction to the man himself. Very inspiring, in a way. But it's a performance. The lights get turned off. Everything gets packed up and moved and set up in the next place. Rinse and repeat. That part of it bears zero interest for me, but I get why the industry is a draw. The ability to create, to be an "artist" and to get paid for it! I wonder if there are ways I can incorporate that kind of thing into my life so that I also get a sense of the lofty or the infinite or the magical, even while toiling under the requirement to tear down the stage, move it and put it all back up again the next day.
I came home from the concert and looked up the band, found this
which is apparently about the lead singer's grappling with being mormon while also not hating gays (I guess you have to hate gays to be a real christian?). As a recovering christian, I am very, very interested in seeing it. When I was church-going, I also felt very conflicted over the church's stance toward gays. It was ultimately one of the things that stuck in my craw that I just couldn't live with any more. Props to him as it seems like he is trying to make change from the inside while I just abandoned an institution that had what I saw as a sinful and disqualifying attitude towards other of "god's children".
And also this tweet
I lived a life of guilt and restraint since I was a child. I have broken those chains and have found healthy grounds. A place where I know who I am. Where I make choices that help me to feel free and alive. Choises that will help me be the artist and being that I was meant to be.
I have a new mancrush.
Finally, an interesting article about regrets
posted this morning that reminded me of the "work" I'm doing in this journal and in my life:
Feeling stuck is fine, but you should treat that like you would treat a hot feeling,” he advises. “If you can’t change your job, or change some of the circumstances of your job, you can do the psychological work, either through therapy or with yourself trying to reframe it.
Rather than wallow in that despair, however, he has chipped away at satisfying the wanderlust that feeds it. He and his wife plan one adventurous trip per year, the only rule being that the destination is someplace they’ve never been. On weekends, too, they check out new neighborhoods in New York, but all the while Davidai focuses on his scholarly work and retains his steady job.
suomalainen wrote: ↑
Tue Aug 08, 2017 12:14 pm
I zoom from "I want to try this" to "I want to try that" and instead of making room for this or that in a small corner of my life, I blow it out of proportion. This or that becomes "I should have built my life around this or that." Like, I get a sense that there's something missing in my current life, and instead of just making room for that on a go-forward basis, I look backward at my life ruefully that I haven't made room for this most important thing that I clearly didn't previously find all that important as I didn't do anything with it then.
suomalainen wrote: ↑
Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:39 pm
It's not like I would want to hobby or meditate or walk in the woods 40 hours a week once I quit working and once the kids leave. Embrace that these things are part of a "web of pleasant distractions" that will only form single strands of said web, whether I'm working or not, whether I have kids at home or not. No one strand deserves the spotlight. You want to do X? Make room for 30 minutes of it during the week. If it sticks, great! Expand the time slot. If it falls by the wayside, great! Time slot is open to try something new.
suomalainen wrote: ↑
Sat Feb 24, 2018 11:17 pm
- I felt angsty about meaning - "What does it mean? What does it mean?". I would try to find meaning in everything from a look to a chance meeting to missed opportunities from years ago, etc.
I needed a major shift of mindset.