Sunday, May 8, 2016

State of the Self

There's something I've been thinking about since December of last year.  In fact I started writing a blog post about it mid-December and I figured I would post it by beginning of the year.  It would be timely, hence the title.  And then, in the biggest pile of irony known to mankind, I didn't finish writing it.

Here's the thing.  A bit of drama started happening at work last fall and suddenly I had extra time on my hands, and that equated to extra time spent in my head.  In there I found a disturbing jumble of half-formed thoughts and pictures, all centered around the differences between activity and passivity. Introspection lead to revelation, and it wasn't pretty:  somewhere along the line I had stopped being an active participant in my own life.  Now mind you, I've always been one step away from a professional procrastinator - if it were an Olympic sport and had a Master's Division, I'd own it.  But this was different.  I just consulted my friend Google and found:

Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task which needs to be accomplished.  It is the practice of doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, or carrying out less urgent tasks instead of more urgent ones, thus putting off impending tasks to a later time.

Using that as our working definition, I wasn't really procrastinating because I wasn't avoiding tasks, I wasn't carrying out less urgent tasks in place of urgent ones, I wasn't putting off tasks to a later time. There was no conscious thought of "oh I'll do that later."  I just stopped doing things.  Let me give you an example.  One day I noticed I had six empty jars of Miracle Whip in my fridge.  Let's skip the obvious (Miracle Whip????) and get right to the crux of it.  Six.  Empty.  Jars.   Seriously, that's not procrastination, that's a lack of participation.  That's passivity at its finest.  And it's just a tiny example, or rather an example of a tiny thing.  I wasn't painting.  I wasn't running.  I wasn't finishing anything, except books - lots of books.  I love to read, but when you clock two or three books a week you're spending a shit ton of hours living in someone else's world and not in your own.  This is how grim it was - here's one of the sentences from the blog post I started back in December:

I look in the mirror and don't even recognize myself.

How did this happen?  When did I stop putting in the effort?  And why?  Most importantly, what was I going to do about it?

The beginning of a new year seemed the right time to address the issue, more in the spirit of "State of the Union" season rather than New Year's resolution season.  I am THE GREAT SABATEUR when it comes to resolutions - I could be a circus act, hence the all caps.  But this time around, I decided to put a different spin on things.  Yes, I would have a New Year's resolution, but it would have a slightly different meaning courtesy of Wikipedia:

Temporal resolution (TR) refers to the precision of a measurement with respect to time.  Often there is a trade off between temporal resolution of a measurement and its spatial resolution due to uncertainty principle which is an inherent property of Fourier transform.

Yeah, just kidding.  I have no idea what that means.  But I DO want to think of the word "resolution" more in terms of focus and clarity.  Sometime over the last year the dpi of my life got fewer and fewer and things started to blur out.  I want to make a conscious effort to bring things back into focus and to do that, I need to be more present in my everyday existence.  I need to be more aware of how I am spending my time, and spend more of it doing things that matter.  Not that reading a good book on the couch while eating potato chips DOESN'T matter, but seriously.  How can I possibly be proud of myself if I look back at the end of every day and see ... nothing.

So of course I didn't follow through and here we are and it's the first week of May.  There were fits and starts, sure.  There was fierce determination and follow-through in some areas, but only mediocre effort in others.  Ingrained habits are hard to break.

Maybe I needed to wait until spring, which is my favorite time of the year.  I love the way it can rain all night and suddenly my lawn is green the next morning.  I love seeing plants poking their little heads up out of the ground.  I love the hope that spring represents.  If the flowers in my yard can re-emerge every year, unfurl, stretch toward the light and blossom into something beautiful - well damn it, so can I.  Roxie and I went for a run a couple days ago and I had a perfect moment, the type of moment I want to experience more often.  We were on our way back home and stopped at the top of a hill because suddenly everything was so crisp and clear.  The light was beautiful, the temperature was perfect, the view was fantastic even though it was nothing special. I felt like I had just gotten new contact lenses because everything - as far as the eye could see - was in absolute focus, and I was so grateful and happy to be in that very spot, at that very time, with that very dog next to me.  I could not have been more present in that moment if I tried.  And my heart was full.

Clarity.  Focus.  Resolution.  I'm working on it.  And I'm cleaning out my fridge.

April 29th there was still a small pile of snow in my back yard, but spring is pressing on:

And by May 6th, in the words of Sylvia Plath, "Cheers for spring; for life; for a growing soul."

No comments:

Post a Comment