I’m prone to thinking I should be helping more.
If you’re prone to thinking you should be helping more, that’s probably a sign that you could afford to direct more energy to your idiosyncratic ambitions and enthusiasms. As the Buddhist teacher Susan Piver observes, it’s radical, at least for some of us, to ask how we’d enjoy spending an hour or day of discretionary time. And the irony is that you don’t actually serve anyone else by suppressing your true passions anyway. More often than not, by doing your thing – as opposed to what you think you ought to be doing – you kindle a fire that helps keep the rest of us warm.
~ Oliver Burkeman from, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/sep/04/oliver-burkemans-last-column-the-eight-secrets-to-a-fairly-fulfilled-life
I was thinking, “oh look, a fire metaphor…” and then, with growing uncertainty, “…or, is that a fire simile?” At which point I spun off relearning the difference between metaphor and simile for the gajillionth time.
I am certain however, that I do not need to direct more of my energy into my idiosyncrasies. No, what I need to do is to learn how to be comfortable letting things remain unexplored. I need to think, “That’s interesting.” And then let it go past.
The Stoics believed that, in the end, it’s not about what we do, it’s about who we are when we do it. They believed that anything you do well is noble, no matter how humble or impressive, as long as it’s the right thing. That greatness is up to you—it’s what you bring to everything you do.
~ Ryan Holiday from, https://ryanholiday.net/discipline-is-destiny-25-habits-that-will-guarantee-you-success/
Depending on where you are on your own journey, this could be the greatest 25-item list you’ve ever seen, or it could be 24 items of hogwash. How great is that? For me, it’s the one about being kind to oneself which I need most to let sink in farther. Every absolute rule, every simple guideline, and every pithy virtue becomes problematic when taken to the extreme. It’s almost as if
*gasp* life is complicated, and I’m a complex person.
I feel like I’m living in the negative. My life isn’t a passing timeline of “this is nice” punctuated with some stuff that qualifies as work, chores, and maintency-things. Instead, I feel like any time I’m in a span of “this is nice”, I’m on borrowed time. It’s is always “this is nice, but…” followed by something I feel I should be doing just as soon as I’m done loafing. It’s as if my personal demon is relaxing, just out of sight at the bar as I loaf here on the veranda, but still dutifully keeping track of exactly how long I’ve been loafing. I continuously feel like things will go better for me (in the way mobsters would say that) if I choose to stop loafing rather than waiting to see how long I can get away with it. That’s not healthy and thus my awareness of the need for self-kindness.
My life is always better when I treat myself as if I were someone I care about.
~ Hugh Hollowell from, https://www.soverybeautiful.org/how-we-treat-ourselves/
I’m really good at digging in and schlepping through the hard work. I’m really good at figuring out how to make three strange pieces fit together so these four people can make some progress on those five incompatible goals. Lift heavy things. Break a sweat. Get shit done. Go above and beyond. Get this letter to Garcia. Abuse English.
Know what I suck at? Treating myself as if I were someone I care about. Can I say, “no, thank you,” to some opportunity because I’m already overwhelmed? Can I take a nap in my hammock, without first spending significant time weighing the merits of giving in to passing out from exhaustion, versus just. work. a little. more. Can I choose to go do that fun thing with my friends, when my weekly plan says I should get some peak heart-rate workout time today? I’m often heard preaching about self-care, taking time to look back and think, “if this isn’t nice…” but, can I actually do those things?
Modern wellness, at its core, is a self-sustaining doom loop of precautionary, aspirational consumption: Buy to be better to buy more to be better still. Which is why, despite Raphael’s arguments, I don’t fully buy that wellness has taken on the role of religion. Instead, in classically entrepreneurial American fashion, it’s become extra unpaid work—the very thing we don’t need more of and truly don’t have time for.
~ Sophie Gilbert from, https://www.theatlantic.com/culture/archive/2022/10/goop-wellness-culture-self-care-parenting/671699/
I’d never really thought of it as “exhausting” until I read this article. Now I’m thinking that what I’ve been rebelling against, in the last year or three, is my self–imposed, continuous–improvement mindset of wellness. What I really want to do, is nothing; literally nothing in the sense of just lay in a hammock for—I dunno—a week, maybe much much longer. I’d thought, again in the last year or three, that I’d insulated myself from the outside effects Gilbert describes so clearly, but now I’m not so sure. I’m definitely way down the downward–slope side of spending money on “wellness.” But I’m definitely aware that I spend a lot of time thinking about, arranging, tweaking, planning, assessing… around wellness. Food for thought, indeed.