Monday, March 23, 2015

"Like butter scraped over too much bread": Some rambly thoughts on feeling over-extended

I'm not the busiest person in the world and I don't take my privileges for granted, so maybe I should list all the ways I could be more over-extended: no kids, only one job, relatively healthy, etc.

While it's useful to remember--and have gratitude--for all these benefits, it's also fair to admit that I still feel over-extended.

Which isn't a complaint by itself, since many of the reasons I feel over-extended are voluntary and fun. When I'm rushing from work on Tuesday to make it to improv at the Hideout, I'm not thinking, "oh man, here's another thing I gotta do." Instead, I think, "oh boy, I get to improvise tonight and see my improv friends!" It's all good.

Not so fast there, buddy: did you notice that, even when I'm going to something I want to do, I'm still "rushing"?

And, of course, you can get that feeling of rushing even when you're sitting still, but feeling torn between moving towards one goal/activity and another.

That rushing, it's a bit like having lots of tabs open on your browser at once for me. Or it's a bit like trying to listen to two conversations at a party at once. It's a bit like--well, here I am again, rushing around to find more metaphors or analogies, instead of just sitting still with one.

Which has always been my problem, a mix of FOMO and curiosity: in school, I was interested in everything--which manifested itself in distraction and lack of discipline. (Writing papers, my favorite part was the footnotes where I could go off on tangents and make interesting observations, which were allowed to be tangential to the main thesis of the paper.)

In later life, well, it's still distraction and lack of discipline, only the tangents that used to be full of joy have begun to feel like burdens: I'd like to sit still and finish this story--but I've gotta go finish taking that course on Machine Learning. I'd like to finish that Machine Learning course, but I've got improv. I"ve got game night. I've got a study group to learn the language Go. I have a bunch of books from the library to read. I've got exercise. I've got food shopping. I've got SXSW. (And more on that soon.)

See what I mean about everything I'm doing being fun and voluntary. Only it doesn't always feel voluntary. And it sometimes feels like I'm getting less done by being so busy.

That, to me, is the too little butter/too much bread paradigm: things that should be fun turn out to feel attenuated, pale, thinned down in positive feeling. It's that sick feeling you get when you binge-watch a show beyond the point of fun, which is like the same feeling but from the opposite side.

I hate to state the obvious (note: untrue--I love to state the obvious), but fun things should be fun. Sometimes you gotta sit with them for a while and not be distracted; or sometimes you gotta standup and walk over to the next thing to do. But walk--don't rush.

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