Day 25, 500 words, 31 days.
I’m precisely in one of those ruts that I hate being in when I’m about to write.
The kind of hole that got a little too comfortable to climb out of – so I just peak out above and assess whether I’m missing all that much.
This week I’ve managed to schedule a few meetings with a nice variety of people – today I met up again with my friend that owns a cafe, Jason. Prior to that I had a video chat with someone all the way out in New York regarding the magazine I help out with. Tomorrow I check in with my colleagues at On Field Media – the photo/video professionals of our little outfit. Thursday I meet up with a former minister turned writer turned web design specialist, but I might be wrong about that order.
Those are the most interesting parts of my days I tend to look forward to.
The most restful are when I’m with my wife, and my cats. Unless my wife is in a cleaning mood, then it isn’t quite relaxing for either of us. But the cats keep things light. Especially the boy. Miles is his own unique kind of cat.
The most stressful are when I’m alone, working.
When I’m actually in a productive groove and I’ve filled the hours of my day by going on a multi-tasking spree and multiple tabs open on several windows, and multiple users, on the same computer – that’s when I stress myself out.
Granted, it isn’t all bad. I get things done, and despite my blood curdling beneath my skin, there’s this tangible sort of reward I feel inside which tends to follow the whole “blood, sweat, and tears” part associated with actual, hard work.
The most restless are when I’m alone, and not working. When I’m thinking about all the things I have yet to do and haven’t done. The things I have failed to do and should have done. And the things I want to do, and have little idea how to go about doing.
I’m sure that’s some sort of twisted version of that famous St. Francis quote, but that’s really how I feel, despite his, likely, sore disapproval from the heavens.
That’s the rut that I’m in.
When my day isn’t inspired by people I respect or care about, or when my day isn’t the constant churning out of decently acceptable work, I often find myself having this last sort of a day – the unbelievably restless kind when I’m up later than I should be, and re-regretting things I stopped regretting when I first figured out that I probably shouldn’t have.
Case in point, a little earlier I started thinking about the first “media”-type position I ever held, back in New York City, when I was an intern for a non-profit think tank on race and politics. My job, literally, was to copy and paste URL links and sum them up into two or three sentence news bits (bites?). On good days, I actually worked outside of the office, shooting pictures. Actually capturing my own stories. I felt I was on the right track.
Fast forward to a year and a half later, as I was moving across the country to the Bay Area, on the verge of taking on a different sort of non-profit gig serving homeless youth. Absolutely noble cause – and also a clear departure from what it was I had first set out to do. It was the right choice at the time, perhaps, as was working for free in New York (OK, maybe not the latter).
And yet, I catch myself some days still wondering what if I had stayed on? What if I just took the same media job, pro bono, but did it in California? It’s not like the opportunity wasn’t there. I just decided at that time, that I no longer wanted it.
That decision kills me. Especially these late evenings. Enough that I feel a slow twisting of a blade lodged deep into my self-esteem.
And yet – minus being with my wife, I’m not sure anything after would have panned out quite the same way. I wouldn’t have learned about my own misgivings regarding the non-profit world, if I didn’t do the non-profit world. I may not have ever decided to jump ship towards social entrepreneurship if I felt perfectly content making no money and telling stories. Had I never done that, I may not have ever figured out that I’m not the most naturally business savvy person after all, though I still wish I were…
Which leads me to believe that, had I never decided to stop doing what I was doing, I would have never learned what I shouldn’t be doing.
And then, two things, now come to mind.
First, maybe I would have arrived at some of these conclusions anyway – that spreadsheets are personally painful to me, that even the most well-meaning people end up doing terrible, inconsiderate things, and that working for free, for a long time, really stinks. Maybe I didn’t need to have to try shooting for the moon with so many things to learn that. Maybe if I just stuck to that one thing…
Second, maybe none of it was in vain.
Maybe I had to experience all of that, the immense heartache, the throbbing mental confusion, the cheap bag lunches and barely-there dinners.
But alas, I’m on the fence. Confounded by two different lenses trying to focus on the same thing – the past. It’s late and I get this way when it’s late. I also get this way when something new introduced itself. The unexpected throws me all out of whack. I could be in for a big change in my routine soon, and frankly, even if I weren’t, I’m probably due for one, anyway.
Because it’s time I stopped letting myself get so damn restless. It is, quite possibly, the worst thing I could do.