Here are a few scattered thoughts. None of them quite a whole post in and of themselves, but still things I want to bring up.
The picture above is of the moon on a cloudy night. True to the nature of this post, it has nothing to do with anything other than that it inspired me.
This morning it occurred to me that one source of stress is a conflict between competing interests. When getting stressed out by performing a piece of music, for example, there are competing desires between wanting to look good and the state of my current skills. Or when being stressed by work life balance, both competing for your time and attention, and possibly mental ability, energy, or other resources.
In these scenarios, there are at least two things pulling in different ways, which can’t both be satisfied in the same way at the same time, and hence the stress. Which means that the way out of stress is,
A) to recognize what the competing desires are, and then
B) to let one of them go or find a different way to satisfy the situation.
On Covid-19 and church:
A church is people praying together, not only being together. People can be in the same place and not be a church. And people can pray together online and be very much connected.
On relationship-oriented thinking:
Now that I am more consciously aware of and receptive to this new kind of relationship-oriented thinking, I have been far more intentionally approaching situations with the mindset of ‘what in this circumstance is preventing me from deepening my relationship with God,’ and, ‘what in this circumstance is helping me draw closer to God.’
This has dramatically changed how I feel about all sorts of situations. It is still in the early stages, and I’m looking forward to deepening this over time.
On both writing and working out my personal growth:
It has been nice to not feel like I can only do one thing at a time. And I’m starting to feel more able to handle things, like I used to, before my burnouts, and might even be able to take on another project in time. But this time I want to do it in healthy, sustainable ways, so I don’t just burnout again.
On my vertigo and my shoulder:
They are still issues. Somewhat better. Mayofascial release has helped somewhat with both of them. But still issues.
On the importance of authenticity to me:
I don’t function well when I’m experiencing cognitive dissonance, and in extreme cases, I stop functioning altogether.
Or else I do something dramatic like sell my car or move into a van.
Picard said to Worf in Redemption, Part I, “Your discommendation is a facade to protect less honorable men. It is a lie. Lies must be challenged.” Cognitive dissonance is living a lie, and I’ve been spending the last three years challenging lie after lie, and I know there are more to come.
I want to live in the truth. It is often said that the ends cannot justify the means. But can the means justify the ends? If I act and live in a way that is “true,” is that not a justification for whatever the outcome turns out to be? It’s not a guarantee that the outcome will necessarily be good, or what I intended, but at least I know that however it turns out, I have acted well.
On doing work I love:
I’ve been reading a lot of articles and books on making it as a freelance writer, and they keep emphasizing that you can’t always write about the things that you want to write about, because sometimes you’ve just got to write whatever pays the bills.
I will readily grant that that is true within a specific framework, but I don’t have to make enough money to pay a mortgage, support a family or even pay the pizza delivery guy, because my frugality is beyond extreme. Oh, what a luxury it would be, to make enough money to once in a while buy a book or, shockingly, eat at a restaurant more than three times a year.
Literally, any money I make whatsoever will be a raise to my current almost complete lack of income and will constitute a quality-of-life increase of noticeable proportions.
So when I watched yet another Ted talk on finding work you love, and Barry Schwartz posed the question, “Why do we drag ourselves out of bed every morning instead of living our lives bouncing from one TED-like adventure to another?” I thought, well, why couldn’t I do that? That’s surprisingly close to what I have been envisioning.
Is this even possible?
Why wouldn’t it be? In an age when we are increasingly able to reinvent our work lives and echo our passions in our projects, I don’t see why I couldn’t pursue serial passion projects, so long as I had sound plans, appropriate skills, and was professional, etc.
After all, I have a wealth of very real business skills, professional experience, and practical knowledge that I bring to everything I do. And I enjoy the challenge of developing my skills and learning new things.
My greatest advantage is that I’m not desperate for money. I make almost nothing and have learned how to live on a four digit annual income. So I think I can actually afford to be choosy about the projects I take on. That way, I can work on the projects that inspire me, write what I love, and not have to chase anything that dangles the prospect of a few dollars in front of me.
Doing work for the wrong reasons was one significant factor in what burned me out in the first place, and I don’t want to make the same mistakes again. This time my eyes are open.
Now that those parts of me have (mostly) healed that felt the need to protect me by trampling on my values, I no longer have to be prey to society’s definition of success. I am living according to my own values, and defining success in ways that matter to me.
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