a culture crisis

for the depraved

Tag: health

On Being Busy, and the Maintenance of Sanity

Image

(source: For a Little Mystery)

I have been thinking lately that busy days do not merely constitute the continual performance of some action or other with little to no physical rest in between. Of course we are busy on days where we get up quite early in the morning, prepare something or other for dinner prior to heading out the door for work, and then, while at work, exhausting ourselves physically and mentally. And then of course, we leave work to pick up the kids (I have no children, but parents do this, don’t they?) and drive them to soccer practice – or something like that – and then when that’s over, we head home to finish whatever it was we prepped for dinner that morning. And then, since many of us bring work home, we do that for some time, and, well, you know the rest of the story. Voila, the busy day, par excellence.

But is it? This example of busyness must sound exceptionally familiar, resembling each of our lives in some form or other, relatable in some capacity. People know this type of “busy.” And it is certainly a type of busy. But lately, I have been thinking about different orders of busyness, different kinds, different levels…

I suppose, then, my point is that “busy” is not necessarily, nor exclusively, a physical state. Perhaps this is self-evident, but lately I have learned never to assume the self-evidence of even the most simple of claims.

(I teach a literature course to science students, and while I thoroughly respect the sciences and the value of such knowledge, other kinds of knowledge, knowledge that I understand as sheer common sense, is taken as the most revolutionary and radical kind of thinking… It’s a little sad actually. This is, of course, not the case with all science students. Don’t worry, I’m not homogenizing you all. But at least in the demographic consisting of the students in my class, very few of them understood concepts such as ideology and gender, nor issues like colonialism or even contemporary American politics. Writing and critical thought proved to be an “unfair” expectation of them, as one student shared with me, and that is just sad. A few of them threw around sexist remarks without even knowing they were sexist. “Obviously only women wear makeup, and if you wear makeup you’re either a woman or want to be one.” Well, no. “Obviously only females who can be compared to men are those that can be viewed as equals and in the same category.” Not sure exactly what that means, but once again, no. One student didn’t even know the word “patriarchy.” All to say, critical thought is required in all disciplines and I have learned not to assume that everything is self-evident. In fact, I had to break down, piece by piece, to one student the reasons why one’s enjoyment of makeup does not categorically mean that this person wants to be a woman. That, my friends, was a frustrating day. In any case, I digress…)

I am currently in the middle of my essay-writing period, and despite the fact that I have an incredible amount of work to do (I can’t even over exaggerate how much work I have) I have been ignoring it. I am currently ignoring it in order to write this entry (thank you blog for helping me procrastinate!). In fact, I’ve been filling my days with watching endless hours of Mad Men, and apparently I can’t tire of Don Draper’s attitude nor of Sally’s exceptional charm.

Seriously, look how cute they are:

Image

(source)

But in any case… I have been doing nothing for about 6 or 7 days now, performing no action other than eating and Netflixing (and showering too, I’m not that quite that lazy), and yet, I feel as though I am busy. Very, very busy.

There is this constant worry to get things done, and to be fair, perhaps I am busy insofar as I have very much to do and the workload is only getting heavier the more that I delay, but that isn’t really my point. It is not so much that I am busy, but rather that I feel busy, as though I were doing something, many things actually, but really I’m merely planted in front of my computer.

Lately, I have been experiencing a kind of worry – a constant worry, actually – and I think that this feeling, this generalized anxiety, perhaps, is that busyness. My mind is always working, whether I am physically performing actions or not. It is on overdrive, overworking itself, refusing to rest, running on and on with a will of its own, irrespective on how much I want to simply relax. It strikes me, then, that I continue to delay, to relax by way of doing nothing (you know, just Mad Men-ing), in order to alleviate that sense of busyness, and I don’t think that I realized that until just now. Literally, just prior to typing it out…

But I don’t know that it’s gone anywhere. Nor do I know if it’s gotten worse. I can’t quite tell right now. But I think that writing this out has been helpful, if for nothing other than allowing me a space in which to sort out what it is that I’m thinking about. But now the trick is getting work done… I think I’m just going to have to force myself to get down to it (though I’ve tried that, but this is where I’ve ended up). Though, it is not the end that matters, but rather the process that led up to that end.

This past year, I’ve been working towards achieving a certain state of mindfulness and mental awareness, and I think I’ve done well in that respect. I keep reminding myself that it is crucially important to actively maintain my health. That is to say that if I am to be healthy, I must be the one to ensure that I am so. That’s not to say that this is something I must do alone. That’s rather silly, actually, and not always possibe. Nor is it the case that, if I happen to have difficulty with it, it necessarily means that I have failed. No. But it is something that I need to take part in, or else it cannot be achieved. I have to help myself be healthy. I’ve done this before, but then again, I’ve never felt this generalized sense of anxiety before, so I am not quite sure how I am going to approach this. But the important thing is that I will approach it.

Thanks for listening.

J.

Words: A New Page

Image

I’ve recently added a new page. “Words” is what I hope will remain a continually evolving, continually growing page, filled with words that have shaped me, developed me in some capacity. Because, after all, words do that. They make us grow, they make us regress, they flatter us, the hurt us, they render us sad, they spur passion within us, etc. I could go on, but, let’s be honest, the list can never end. Words have such weight, such power, and yet these qualities often go unnoticed, unrecognized.

This page, then, is a tribute to the words in my life, for better or for worse. They are not always good words, not always happy nor inspirational. To be fair, though, I am not always good, nor happy, nor inspirational! Such is life, though. But nonetheless, they have come to mean something to me; they have helped mould whatever it is that I have become, whatever it is that I am today.

I’ve started the page with a series of quotes from some literature and authors that I really admire. Eventually, though, I hope to add some words from philosophy, from politics, from critical thinkers. If I am brave (and I hope that I am), I will also contribute words that I have encountered in my personal life. That is not to say that I don’t consider literature or philosophy a personal encounter, but rather that I want to contribute words that I have said or that have been said to me, even if they have been difficult to bear. Bearing them, though, is why I am my own self today, right now.  Words that troubled me have had equal influence (if not more) in shaping me, challenging me to determine who and what I would become.

What do I want for my life? Who will I surround myself with? How do I choose to cope with anxiety? How will I remain healthy? What kind of person do I want to be? What are those things, those qualities, that I value most?

While such questions are seemingly generic, something you’d perhaps find on a silly “discover yourself” questionnaire, if answered as honestly, faithfully, and bravely as possible, they somehow becomes exceptionally revealing. I recently interviewed for a position in a research firm (more on that later), and my interviewer told me that I seemed to be very self-aware. I told her that it was one of the things I was most proud of in myself, because I worked very hard to achieve this state (more on this later as well).

All to say, though, that words are extremely influential. Pay attention to them.

For Not Nearly Enough People Have Heard This

This is the clip that I listen to most often, perhaps, of all the clips I have listened to (ever). I must account for a significant amount of those views. If you haven’t heard of him, Alan Watts is a philosopher well-known for introducing Eastern philosophy to Western culture.

RE: the above video

There was a time when I tried ever so actively to practice such “nothingness.” A nothingness that is “really like the nothingness of space which contains the whole universe.” I think it worked for a little while, and I was quite content. Happy, even. That is not to say that I am no longer content nor happy, but only that life got busy, and I forgot. I forgot these words and how much value they held for me. It took so long for me to understand “nothingness,” to know it in its positive capacity, but as it turns out, it seems that this is all I ever want for my mind these days (that is, when I have time to think about it).

In the end, I chose to post this today because not enough people have heard Alan Watts speak these words. Whether you agree, disagree, or otherwise remain neutral is not the point. These words are not a means to an end. Rather, they are an end in themselves. That is to say, the questions that arise from listening to Watts speak on “nothingness,” the thoughts produced by one’s engagement with these claims is that which ultimately matters. Whether this turns out to be a philosophy you ascribe to is really a matter of your own concern, but know that there is value in the mere development of your views, a value that, in fact, extends beyond even your own self, and I think that is a good thing.

Also, his voice is lovely and melodic, lulling even. Enjoy the clip if only for that, and for the perfect pairing of voice to audio. Near perfect acoustics.