Mudskipper

I’m going to have to start doing that thing where I carry a tiny notebook with me everywhere, to write down random thoughts I have. Throughout the course of my day I think of many things I might like to write about, but, recently, whenever I sit down to write, I’m blank. And then this thing I’m doing feels like a slog.

I used to be good at slogs. My life was just one long slog.

Then I got sick of it, and I got much better at whims. For a while, my life became a fantastical, disjointed string of whims.

Once I’d taken the time to recover from pissing away all my energy on grinding ineffectively for an ego-driven life, it began to emerge that, probably, living on whims wasn’t going to get me much further.

I wanted to believe, on some level, that I could bypass future slogs by successfully harnessing motivation. I began trying to learn the secret of inspired action.

I still haven’t learned it, really, because I’m still facing a slog. Several slogs, in fact. I still have too many ideas tugging at my focus and, in between brief bouts of clarity, the result is overwhelmingly a sort of white noise.

Holding onto any single strand of inspiration long enough to mean anything is tricky for me. I’m starting to accept that resurrecting my ability to slog may be the right way forward. To relearn how to wade through the silty mud when the tide’s gone out, instead of sitting down to wait.

I have conflicting ideas about this, still. I think I still believe it’s possible to avoid the slog – not the hard work, but the work that feels unnecessarily hard. And so my reaction when I see the mud up to my ankles is where did I go wrong here? Well, maybe I did go wrong, maybe I didn’t, but the fact of the matter is there is mud up to my ankles, and I’ve got too much shit to get on with to just languish in it.

My slothful soul

I fell asleep yesterday evening right after putting my son to bed. I retreated to my room not long after seven, intending to unwind with YouTube for half an hour, and then it was 22:07 and I was groggily weighing up the pros and cons of dragging the laptop over and pushing out some words.

Cons won. I went back to sleep and woke up at about four-thirty with a trapped nerve in my neck as punishment.

It’s the first time in nearly three months that I’ve wilfully failed to post daily. Once, or maybe twice, I genuinely forgot, and a couple of times I technically posted after midnight, but this was different. This was ON PURPOSE. I must repent before the Devil of Lethargy claims my slothful soul!

Or maybe, whispers the Devil of Lethargy, posting once every couple of days works out better for you anyway…

Alternative route

The second risk I face when I have too many ideas is that I will be paralysed by self-cynicism. I, at some point, grew so tired of my brain taking on the personality of a really enthusiastic special needs labrador, that I learned to counteract inspiration with brutal, faithless apathy. Bleak, and effective.

Neither the labrador nor the cynic are really welcome contributors to my life path right now, but I wonder if maybe I should just let them fight it out and see what happens.

A long time ago, I was told a story about some guy who got attacked by someone on crack, but he was a blackbelt in Aikido so he just kept disabling him. But his attacker couldn’t take the hint because he was invincible, so he kept on attacking, and Aikido Guy had to keep upping the severity. Until, eventually, by the time the police turned up, the attacker had a bunch of broken bones and other injuries and was staggering around after him like a zombie. And Aikido Guy got charged with GBH.

That’s sort of how I imagine this going down.

Danger ahead

I’m going to have to be careful, because I’m getting too many ideas. Whenever this happens, I risk disappearing into a soup of half-started projects, entangled in competing priorities and counter-productive overexcitement. I risk making bad decisions. I risk losing what I’ve already built.

And when I read that back, it sounds pretty serious. It sounds like some pretty maladaptive impulsivity. Yeah. I’m going to have to be careful. But, Once Upon A Time, it wasn’t just a risk, it was a guarantee. So I guess that’s something.

Chocolate chip entropy

I do best with a diet which excludes dairy, soya and oats. If I provide myself with that, other things pretty much fall into place. If I do not provide myself with that, all things tend toward entropy.

I think it was Brian Cox I once heard talking about how living organisms are essentially agents of entropy, catalysing the Universe’s descent, paradoxically, due to the necessity of staving off entropy within themselves. Maybe I should think about how I’m killing the Universe in my own minute way the next time I want to waste a week of my life on some chocolate chip cookies or something.

Because the annoying thing about me is that, even though I know very well by this point that there is a clear and meaningful difference between who I am when I’m eating the right things and who I am when I’m eating the wrong things, I still keep feeling the need to just…test it. Or, if something really fucks me off, it still seems like a good idea to bury my sorrows in some junk food that I conveniently didn’t check the label of.

That’s why I’ve been splashing around in the mud much more than I should have been these past few weeks. Things got emotional and I decided, despite all the well-worn tools and techniques available to me, that I would eat my feelings about once a week, and then spend the rest of the week regretting it not quite enough to stop me doing it all over again.

I’ve spent most of my life feeling pretty shitty, so it’s easy for me to forget what feeling good is like. But every time I get back on track I think why the fuck would I do that to myself? …and then I do.

In my defense, I think there’s a bit of a pendulum effect going on, and the swing is gradually decreasing. Getting better is a strange thing. Maybe this is just how I have to do it.