Reaching Goals and Feeling Blue

I’ve been cranky the past few days–Startler and Waldorf cranky, without the smart zingers.

But I’ve got no excuse for it: I’ve written another piece for EcoGeek (so lucky!), and one for a new website, Dorkjuice, on my silly excitement for PAX East, and I have a few more articles about green tech and geek news on the horizon. Be still my heart: I’m writing. I’m writing about topics I’m interested in, and I’m learning to write in new ways for new audiences.

And I’m buzzing with pitch ideas, excited for these new projects. Most of me is blue, though. Inexplicably blue.

It’s strange how good fortune doesn’t necessarily correlate with an all-encompassing happiness boost. I’m moving along in my goals, but these successes haven’t shaken me from some lingering “why-do-I-exist” crisis that everyone must constantly undergo, right?

Right? At least near constantly? Once a week, maybe, do you, too, face down either 1) the strangeness of your upcoming death or 2) the bigger strangeness of your excessively unlikely presently alive status and what can be done with it?

What to do with one’s life doesn’t have to be couched in terms of work, I know. I know it’s possible for people to have vocations and livelihoods that don’t intersect. But do those who find their dream careers still feel these crises lumped in with thoughts of their livelihoods? Do the crises have a different flavor for you, the ones who made it, the people I admire, who do what they love even when it’s hard? Or maybe there are levels of “what am I doing with my life” that those who’ve found their calling still reach when they’re not wholly consumed by purpose.

I’m lucky to be making strides in writing and learning in action, but I still have this core crisis. I could write about that. Maybe it’s inevitable to write about that when it churns like it has been lately.

From Buzzfeed.

On New Year’s Resolutions

Neil Gaiman.

I love the above graphic-ized quote from Neil Gaiman (confirmed his from his Twitter account). The “live as only you can” especially strikes a chord–the part of me that agrees art can be a life. The wish (blessing?) acknowledges that joy, creativity, and surprise–something different–are really what most of us are looking for in the new year. While I might vow to replace all refined sugar at home with agave nectar in 2013, what I really want is transformation. To be and do something different and unexpected. Simultaneously, to change for the better and be more myself.

But I find the resolve isn’t often present when it needs to be. It’s in the daydreamy planning times, the kinds that I’m always indulging in, be it December 31st or May 31st. To change, really, I need to change my behavior in the moment when it counts, and do what I really want to be doing when I don’t feel like doing it. (I remember hearing once that that’s what it means to grow up: to do what’s important even if you don’t want to or feel like it.)

Then Randall Munroe of xckd fame produces this gem:

resolution

For me, ultimately, there’s no sense in New Year’s Resolutions. When I’m ready to change, I will.

Eternity in Time

It's almost winter now; maybe late summer like this tomorrow?Does anyone else ever feel like they can slip right back into an old life? I get the feeling that no time period actually ends. There’s never a real last day at a job, last exam of a class, or last night at an apartment. Well, that’s not entirely true: I remember lots of last days, nights, and exams. They definitely happened. It’s more that those moments to mark passage–the rituals that accompany change (for our last night in Massachusetts, we ate pizza and watched Sherlock on the mattress dragged into our tiny, empty living room) don’t ever fully succeed. Those pre-change scenarios are still possible. Or, they feel possible.

In a minute I might tie up my apron at the bakery after high school, take a midnight walk to 7-11 from Stonehill College, or pop down to Davis Square on the 96.

Moving back to my hometown may be exacerbating these nostalgic feelings; I’m in a city I return to and leave from, and it’s strange to have not left (again) yet. At the same time, I do believe that past events in specific times and places are indeed still happening. Somewhere.

“Eternity is in love with the productions of time,” writes William Blake. I think time is a bit eternal in its own way.

Procrastination and Living in the Present

As a chronic procrastinator, this comic by Josh Mecouch of Formal Sweatpants (based on this article over at You Are Not So Smart) makes my stomach lurch. Throw in some accusatory, guilt-ridden conversations with a “past me” (Why didn’t you do [insert urgent task here]?), and it’s too familiar.

But it’s not just pitifully pathetic to envision a future self doing all the things you want to have done but don’t want to do now: it’s the shadow of a necessary illusion. Even for the purposes of living well in the present, it’s just not possible to avoid crafting these imaginary selves. In order to make meals for the week actually happen, in order to enjoy a movie night next Wednesday with friends, we need these illusions, don’t we? It can’t all be “Yes. Laptop. Yes. Leonard Cohen cover. Yes Christmas advertisements and twinkle lights.” It’s gotta also be “Yes. Me, here, now, going to the store to buy soap for when we run out soon, so my future self won’t be stinky. Me, here, now, thinking my thoughts about the future in the present, updating a calendar filled with days that themselves aren’t real yet.”

What is it about envisioning the future that allows for both action-infused planning and avoidy-lazy procrastination? In either scenario with the sweatpants or the soap, why do we always make our future selves work so hard? I see her now, the future Sarah doing the work I could be doing right now! And lo, she won’t, she really won’t: she’ll resist, just like present me.

Well, eventually she will get to it, the important things. One of us Sarahs will, but that one’s never the same.

She’s always sitting here, right now, hands typing over the laptop, listening to the Leonard Cohen cover, glancing at Christmas advertisements and twinkle lights. And she’ll say, “Sorry, future me, past me, and present me. I’m too busy at the moment to talk to you three, but let’s chat again sometime soon.”