I recommend waking up about 30 minutes earlier than you normally do. I know, it sucks. I’m hardly excited when my 5am alarm goes off, but the pros outweigh the cons. I get some time while the world is dark and quiet to reflect over my coffee cup or read the news or balance my budget or do a crossword puzzle. The time is mine and in it I sit in a suspended world of peace.
I had a pretty mixed weekend. In some ways, I’m a little bummed with myself. I backslid on some habits, including my blogging, writing, and exercise. I’m trying to not be too hard on myself and to honor the time I needed off.
I also had a pretty good weekend. Anna and I were actually social and went to a Friendsgiving event where we basically knew nobody and had a great time. We chatted with some amazing people and are (hopefully) starting to connect a little bit with our town. It surely drained my introvert batteries a bit and Sunday was basically sitting on my ass (or is that just an excuse?). Overall, it was a good weekend.
Completing the morning writings from “The Artist’s Way” has become one of the most impactful things in my life. It really has sparked creative change and motivation to do other things. Just this week I contacted a doctor about getting LASIK, reached out to a music teacher to take voice lessons, and began really working on an RPG story that has been floating around in my brain.
Seriously. Doing an unfocused brain dump every morning by writing three pages by hand has changed my life.
Sometimes I read a book or an article or something and it punches me right in the feels. This morning was one of those times. I read an article in Psychology Today about “sensation seekers”, people who have an above average drive to do things that seem a little, umm, unwise. Cliff divers, mountain climbers, cross country cyclists, partiers, etc. Apparently, people like this fall into four broad categories based on how they respond to boredom, their disinhibition, thrill/adventure seeking, and experience seeking.
I’ve known for most of my life I was a little more of a sensation seeker than others. I went skydiving on my 18th birthday, joined the US infantry to see if I “had the balls”, have quit two secure jobs without a back-up plan to cycle across the country, have done naked bike rides, been in orgy domes, and I would literally jump on a plane in one hour to go to a foreign country if presented with the opportunity. On the “Sensation Seeking Scale” I max out the experience-seeking section and score above average in the other three measures.
What I found particularly interesting about the article is it hinted at something that I’ve suspected about myself. In some ways, these more extreme experiences aren’t about seeking an above-average rush, it is that these above-average rushes are needed to reach a level that is normal for others. The article mentioned that high sensation seekers have lower arousal systems, our norepinephrine amounts are lower. I think this is why sexual variety and experimentation, MDMA (and other drugs), and travel are so appealing. When I have those experiences I can start to understand the passion and lust and racing heart that others feel with more common experiences.
Another area of the article that spoke to me is this line: “One of the things that I heard over and over from high sensation seekers is “Analysis IS paralysis.” Instead of analyzing situations, they jump headlong into them and trust their bodies and minds to respond as needed. The goal is to not think about what to do too soon.”
There is a danger to all this. I imagine injuries, death, addiction, and other consequences are common. But, like the article points out, people like me aren’t doing this because we have a subconscious desire for death (sorry, Freud) but it is because we have a very conscious love of life… particularly the quality of our lives, even if we risk the quantity of it.
I’m happy right now. There is no particular reason and I’m not trying to brag or anything. I just feel happy. Life is going in a great direction. There are a lot of challenges and stressors but they are adding to the happiness, they provide opportunities for accomplishment and growth and strengthening. Life could be so much worse.
I admit, I was a little skeptical when I started writing the Morning Pages that are part of “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. I first heard the book recommended on Rick Roll’s (or maybe his book) and have since heard about it many times. It is one of those cultural things that appear to be everywhere once your eyes are open to it.
The idea of sitting down and hand writing three pages seemed daunting, difficult, and, to be honest, a waste of time. But, after three weeks of (inconsistent) writing I am starting to see some benefits. Most days the writing is venting and kind of like a journal, but some days ideas pop into my head that are really inspiring. Ideas for how to move a story forward or a business idea or ways to improve my friend’s entrepreneurial activities.
Starting my day out with hand writing clears the cobwebs and makes the world seem a little more at ease. My mind slows down, feels at peace (relatively), and things seem just a little bit more clear. It isn’t a panacea but it is a way to get things started a little bit better and with that good habit I am more likely to do other good habits like read, drink water, brush my teeth, meditate, exercise, and prioritize my own goals over the “needs” of others.
Lots of random things running through my head this morning. Things I can’t quite articulate. I’m pretty overwhelmed and stressed with some parts of my life, while others are going pretty well. I think the former areas are the ones where I feel like there is no progress being made. Like I’m at a standstill. I just can’t get momentum going for one reason or another.
I don’t know.
I think raising a child may be the single most important thing that a person can do. Which is why I chose not to do it. It is something that I think should be entered into with a high level of interest, a high level of knowledge about how to raise a child in the modern world, the resources available to provide what the child needs, and the temperment to do it. I lack many (most? all?) of those things and to have a child would be an incredibly selfish act.
Then again, having a child is always a selfish act.
I don’t necessarily mean that in a judgmental way. We all behave selfishly, that is part of self-preservation and individuality and the pursuit of a meaningful life. One thing that my partner and I have discussed is fostering or adopting children. We do have an interest in raising a child and a longing to help those in our community who need it. Our genes are not that special (and neither are yours) and it seems so selfish to me to value a potential child with my genes over the half a million children in the US who already exist and don’t have stable homes.
Yes, I’m selfish. But so is every parent who looks at our world today and says, “Instead of taking care of those in need I want to bring a new life into the world.”
I’ve never really had a focus for this blog. It has bounced around from political thoughts to daily frustrations to sexual interests to unedited fiction. That’s probably okay. I don’t think everything needs focus or editing or polish. A little rawness is good, at least it is for me.
Similarly, I’ve never really had an audience in mind. This blog has primarily been a place for me to just throw my thoughts out there and see what sticks. So, I guess I’m the audience. Hell, some of the time I don’t actually agree with what I’m writing. Sometimes it is just ideas or thoughts that I find interesting or worth exploring.
I think one of the primary threads that has run through the last seven years of “on again, off again” blogging is areas around mental health. My first professional/academic interest was psychology and it is, without a doubt, the most persistent interest in my life. The brain and mind have always fascinated me.
As I continue to actively and intentionally work to improve my brain and its processes (as I think we all should do) it is likely that this blog will start to shift a little bit more towards mental health. That is a broad subject, though. I can definitely talk about things like my struggles with anxiety, PTSD, motivation, and impostor syndrome. But I can also talk about books about creativity, articles about anger, and the use of nootropics. Discussions of sexual desires and turning to food for comfort and longing for flirting and anarchist tendencies can all occur.
So, yeah, maybe this blog will get some more focus… or maybe it won’t. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
I need more stillness in my life. My moments of productivity, contentment, and happiness are when I am most still. It comes easily in the mornings, when the world is dark and quiet. I struggle with it in the afternoons and evenings when there are so many “demands” for my attention and my mental strength is weakening.
I know there are things I can do to get more stillness. I can get back into the habit of only checking my email twice a day. I can go for walks and meditate and make sure that I turn off the tv or phones while eating. I can “unplug” at night before bed and get back into reading. I can start yoga again.
It is all just figuring out how to set boundaries, to make my time mine, to respect and honor and love and value my own life.