Getting Lost And Coming Back
I got lost. Not in life but in apathy and a story. The story was The Stand by Steven King, the apathy was from a source that I just can’t put my finger on. Let’s start with the story because that is a little easier to talk about while I dust the cobwebs off fingers that have not typed anything of substance in more than a week.
The Stand revolves around the survivors of a post-apocalyptic world in which a government super-flu project wipes out more than 99% of the population in a matter of weeks. Two figures emerge that lead respective groups of survivors. The Dark Man, Randall Flag, who is a symbol for evil and oppression, sets up shop in the western US and runs a sort of police state. It is very efficient at restoring life back to a semblance of the old times. Getting the power on, instituting law and order, and gathering weapons to continue man’s terrible habit of killing those that do not agree with the way that one envisions the world. He is evil and supernatural. The people that are drawn to him are a mix of bad elements and those that want a better life, but don’t mind living in fear of how their society is run.
The protagonist, Mother Abigail, is a frail 108-year-old black woman who is a vessel for the light. Survivors see her in dreams and follow her first to Nebraska, and then Boulder Colorado. She is a figurehead for all that is right and kind, and instead of instituting her own brand of society, she lets other good people get together and figure out how to confront their own demons and the threat that looms in the west.
I won’t give away much more of the story beyond saying that it is either a great tale of how the human condition constantly struggles between virtue and evil, or just an interesting story of what might happen if all the vestiges of modern society were wiped away in an instant. Check it out and decide for yourself.
As for the apathy, I guess it goes a little like this. I have always been good at starting things, but never that great at finishing them. This leaves me in a constant state of having have unfinished projects piling up on my desk or in my mind. This doesn’t feel particularly good because it leaves a lot of ‘what-ifs’ floating in my head. What if I had finished this? What if that had of been successful and I wasn’t still doing the same thing after two years? On the up side, this habit has given me a variety of skills and leaves my time occupied and away from TV and social media when I put in work.
One of the things that I realized when I worked the 4th step during my time in an out-patient rehab center is that it is not so much the lack of completion of any one project that bothers me as much as it is the lack of work. There is a sort of inertia that occurs in my life. If I get up every day with a list of things to do, times to do them, and work throughout the day to check them off, I feel a sense of accomplishment that leaves me ready to do the same the next day. I have a little worksheet that I made to help me with this that I will be sure to share at some point. Nothing complicated, just a little modified to-do list that I put together on google docs.
The concept of inertia, especially the part about how an object at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by an outside force, is the converse of my action. It takes a fair amount of mental energy or commitment for me to follow through on my list for any sort of sustained amount of time and it can be derailed in as little as a day.
This challenge is a great example. I missed one day of writing because I was tired after work. One day turned into two, then three, and then a whole week had passed. I spent a lot of time in bed over those few days, saying that tomorrow I would start again, but until this morning I put no work into my writing or much of anything else.
This didn’t feel good or particularly terrible. More like an empty state of anhedonia. So, I tried something that I had read in a self-help book by Brendan Burchard. I wrote out my goals on mirrors in both my bedroom and the bathroom. Will it work on a continuing basis? Hopefully. It got me started today. It broke the inertia of rest. Will I get to everything? I’m not sure, but I can cross out one item out of four which is better than nothing.
So next time you feel like you are in a rut, try leaving notes for yourself in very visible places. Mirrors make great whiteboards and dry-erase markers are cheap. I’ll let you know how it goes over the next few days and probably post pictures of each day’s list.
Here’s to Newton and outside forces
PS. Thanks to everyone who asked where my posts were. Especially my sister who reminds me every day that I can do more.