The mess I am in

I’ve spent far too much time near the theoretical line that divides the people who are in control of their lives from the people who aren’t in control. My usual position in that spectrum is hovering somewhere just barely in the “not in control” camp, and the terrible thing there is that being in control isn’t that far away; it isn’t impossible. You can see it just over the next rise.

And in that way your hopes are raised before being dashed on the rocks of reality.

Repeatedly trying, and failing, to get things under control eventually takes a toll on you. I (at least imagine I) feel it physically; my back seems to be growing more and more tight as the months pass, and I’ve had trouble sleeping lately. Even more damaging, though, is an insidious, unexpected (at least by me), consequence: I’ve pretty much forgotten how to have fun.

I can relax and enjoy myself when I have friends over, and Wednesday night dance practices are pretty much a sacred time separate from my regular life. Outside of those situations, though, I feel a constant need to be productive and get stuff done. This is (tragically?) exacerbated by my inability to actually get everything I want done—and suddenly I’m in the middle of a feedback loop that’s been going crazy on my ass for years now.

End result? I buy video games, but never actually find the time to sit down and enjoy playing them. I’ve seen damn few movies released in the last decade. My nose is constantly in my iPod or iPad, trying to catch up on all the RSS feeds I haven’t read. Despite being online constantly, I don’t actually respond to emails in any timely fashion; despite getting my blog set up on WordPress (crossed off that to-do item!), I don’t really post in it. My free time is consumed with trying to accomplish things, and what things I do “for fun” are stripped of a lot of their joy.

This is Sparta madness—and the crazy thing is that I’ve somehow done it all to myself.


3 Responses to The mess I am in

  1. Don’t confuse reading RSS feeds with being productive. Seriously. Your blogreader can turn into a black hole that sucks up your time and enjoyment. Getting caught up on RSS feeds should be a pleasure, not a chore. If it’s a chore then start deleting feeds. There’s no need to choose judiciously; just cull some feeds. You’ll miss the ones you genuinely care about.

    As for the broader topic of this post: damn, Dude, it sounds like you’re stuck in a boring, repetitive rut. I’ve thought about this for a bit and have two possible prescriptions.

    1. Get an MBA. The University is right there and you could probably work it around your work schedule. The coursework would not be overly difficult, as you know, it would add some time pressure to your schedule, and you’d gain a valuable credential and would be exposed to more social opportunities. You may have good reasons to be reluctant to return to the CoB, however.

    2. Travel for 10 to 14 days in Spain and Portugal. Hear me out on this. Get on and arrange the cheapest flights you can for sometime next February or March, one arriving/departing from, say, Madrid and the other from Lisbon. Get the time off work. Buy the Lonely Planet guide for each country. Take a leisurely trip without a set itinerary. Visit the great Iberian cities and see the sights. Visit some tiny, remote villages and enjoy being the only foreigner in town. Visit the Costa del Sol and party with some British expats. Enjoy the food. Meet other travellers by staying in hostels. Take public transportation and meet some locals. You’ve got the language skills. Go for random walks and see what you find. There will be something interesting in every city and village you visit. This trip would be exciting, challenging, scary, amazing, and a very good and healthy break from the routine you describe above.

  2. Brent says:

    Oh, I’m not confusing reading RSS feeds with being productive; I view my falling behind in those as an example of my not getting to things I want to do—not failing to do stuff I have to do. I have started paring my feeds down, though, as they were getting obviously unwieldy.

    I am kind of in a rut, but I don’t know that I’d say it’s boring—or, rather, that it’s boring to the point of being a problem. (I do have to concede the “repetitive” part.) Remember, though, that I have something of an affinity for quiet days. Marin argues that I have an affinity for whining as well, and uses this post as evidence.

    There is No Way In Hell that I’m going back to college. “Never say never” and all that, but my relationship to “never” in that regard is akin to various lenders’ rates’ relationship to the legal definition of usury. My goals and the goals of academia are decidedly divergent at this point; in general I just don’t feel like subjugating myself to the whims (nor the cost) of the university. The structure of having fixed classes would do me some good, but there are other ways of providing structure that aren’t so drastic.

    It is time for me to get out of the country again, but the dollar is extraordinarily weak and the TSA is extraordinarily annoying at the moment. As for your specific suggestion: I’m sure I’d enjoy it when I got there, but for whatever reason I just don’t have any real interest in Europe right now. (Also my Spanish skills have been unused for over a decade, and I don’t know a thing about Portuguese.) Left to my own devices, I’ll probably head back to Japan… as soon as air travel stops being insane.

    I appreciate your suggestions, even if I don’t act on them exactly. Don’t think that I’m a total wreck here, though—on the whole I am content with where I am and what I’m doing. My inability to address this last issue of control is more a constant thorn in my side than a gaping wound… I just happen to be really bad at tolerating that type of continual irritation.

    In a larger sense, this is me grappling with the fact that I have a limited time on this Earth and don’t have enough time to do everything I want to do. I need to start thinning my life alongside my RSS feeds…

  3. I chose Spain and Portugal because of your language skills. I once saw you translate Telemundo serially, which makes your Spanish better than my German, which was enough for me to get by in Germany. It would come rushing back to you with immersion. But if Japan is calling to you then that’s where you should go.


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