Here there be monsters (socratic) wrote,
Here there be monsters
socratic

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Look at me. I'm all affirmational. I'm fucking Tony Robbins over here. Not in that way.

One of the things about dieting is that rather than taking your mind off food it tends to focus it with laserlike precision on all the foods you can't have (if it is a bad diet) or all the foods you can have later if you are disciplined now (if it is a good diet.) This turns much of life into downtime between feedings. Oh I know it's unhealthy to think about it that way, but every dieter who has significant weight to lose does. That's one of the reasons that Atkins is so popular, because there doesn't need to be any downtime between feedings or any true restraint. It eliminates that part of the dieting experience, at the cost of variety of foods and probably eventual health (at least in some). It's not a tradeoff one can easily dismiss.

Of course it's not just with dieting that much of life amounts to downtime. It's true for most people who have a real passion, even if it's not a healthy one. Sometimes you want something so badly that time without it feels like time mispent. Consider the average romantic date. Most men consider eating, talking, and foreplay to be downtime before sex. Something to be gotten through rather than relished. Meanwhile women see sex as downtime between sessions of talking. Of course I'm being a little unfair. Some women see sex as downtime between asking for things.

For many people, perhaps the majority, work is downtime. It's something that must be gotten through so that the remaining hours can be spent doing things that are at least moderately pleasant. For some poor saps even their home lives are down time. People trapped in unhappy marriages or with children that they can't relate to and properly enjoy. Some people find release only a couple times a week, when they're on the golf course or in the arms of their mistress or being spanked with a paddle before returning to their office in the Hart Senate Office Building.

This is not the way to live, and that's one of the reasons I have decided to chuck what would probably have been a promising career in law or academia to pursue a potential career in writing and directing that, according to the people who regularly read what I have to say, I am eminently unqualified for. Writing doesn't feel like downtime, it feels like uptime. It is pleasure and excitement and fulfillment, and while there are frustrations and struggles and a distinct lack of financial remuneration those all feel like parts of something worth doing. When you get frustrated in a data entry job you have only your frustration to live with, because you know that while your current task might be of vital importance to your financial well-being and chances of moving up in the company it is, in the grand scheme of things, supremely unimportant. You're shifting numbers around according to the whims of some guy seperated from you by two figures in his salary, five levels in corporate management, and a whole lot of years. When you're frustrated while working on something you believe in or care about you have frustration and you have hope. Hope makes frustration tolerable. Hope is the fountain of youth. It gives you back those years you spent waiting in line or collecting bullshit credentials or whatever other way you found to waste your life.

Down time is unavoidable. It's a necessary part of life in modern society, an inconvenience we put up with in exchange for a longer life span and 2-ply toilet paper. I try to minimize it the best I can, and it's pretty easy. Bring a book with you on the subway. Have a nice fantasy to turn to when you're standing in line. Pay attention to your body when you have to walk somewhere, really feel your arms and legs and the muscles and joints. Strike up a conversation with a stranger or get yelled at for offering an 83 year old woman your seat. Yet despite good efforts there will always be times that you just have to get through in life. Yesterday after I went for my walk I picked up some groceries and my dinner (A chef's salad and a piece of cake). On the way home I was incredibly thirsty and tore into the bag for the cold diet Snapple I'd purchased and I pulled it out and started drinking it while I walked. The bags were digging into my hands and arms, the Snapple cap wouldn't go back on properly and it kept splashing on my arms and it was a thoroughly unpleasant experience for 10 minutes. Nothing that could be done about it. The key is to minimize those experiences. Life is precious and short and not to be wasted. If 8 hours of your day are unbearable shit, or even bearable shit, and you're not actively trying to do something to change it then you are doing something wrong. Don't wait until tomorrow or some big cancer scare or a bombing to start living your life. More human misery is generated every day by complacency than any terrorist could hope to create.

The agony of misspent time has a way of polluting even time well spent. You regret the hours of waste and anticipate with pain those wasted hours yet to come. It's a dangerous and depressing spiral. I should know, I've lived it. Your base emotional state is stressed and unhappy. You get bored easily and have no idea how to fix it. Misery becomes a permanent condition.

Finding something you love to do is tough as hell, and usually takes a good deal of time, but it's a necessity. Killing time is suicide, just slow and inefficient.
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