Temporarily Out of Service

Atop my desk, right in front of me, is a small carved piece of metal.  It sits beneath a miniature bust of the head of Cthulhu, and says, simply, “RELAX.” And looking at it makes me tense, fills me with an undercurrent of anxiety that follows me around for hours each time I notice it.

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That, Ms. Morissette, is ironic.

It was given to me a few years back by an ex-girlfriend, because I did/do too much.  I rarely, in fact, stop moving, stop thinking, stop.  I live on far too little sleep not because I can, or because I don’t need it, but because there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the things that I want to do on top of all the things I need to do.  And it’s not an issue of efficiency, mostly; contrary to some, I think I do work “smarter, not harder.” I just have a lot of irons in a lot of fires, a lot of interests, and I’m fascinated by too many things.

I wrote a few years back that I was taking a little time off from things, giving myself a moment to stop swimming and just drift with the current of life.  I keep coming back to that post and the thought process underneath it in the past few weeks. I’m sure that I’m having some chemically-off moments contributing to all this, as most of what’s going through my head is not fixed but distractingly staticky, but there’s a feeling of being lost, of having missed something or some turn or side path, or maybe having taken the wrong side path.

No one will give me a map, and I don’t expect that. If there’s a formula for acheiving the American Dream, such as it were, then it’s one that must be earned.  On the flip side, this whole thing we experience called life may just be

… but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Thank you, Sir Francis Bacon.

The question remains in my head: what is the point?  What am I doing? Or, maybe, what am I supposed to be doing?

Let’s assume for a second that there is no point.  Sound and fury.  You’ve still got options: live to create a legacy, through children or creations.  Live to be content and happy as much as possible.  Or drift from guff to grave, I suppose, but being no good at relaxing, I have a hard time imagining this one. The second — striving to live and enjoy it — seems perfectly reasonable to me.

But still, I look up through the leaves and the mist every now and again, and feel like I’m supposed to be over there somewhere, that I’ve ended up in this weird place that runs parallel to me but isn’t quite right.  I felt this way once before, too, and wish I could remember what changed to bring me out of it.

I’m sure there’s some bit of dissatisfaction with the seeming stagnancy of my life to blame for this. I want for too much, and so much of that seems utterly out of reach, the rest tantalizingly close but always the equidistant carrot. Everything I put energy and effort into seems to come just short of fruition. My ‘expertise’ in any given field fades too quickly in a world where advances and changes sit together on a bullet train.  I’m not at all where I imagined I would be.

And there, then, I suppose to be the real source of my discontent.  I’m not where I imagined I would be because I don’t think I ever really imagined being anywhere.  I think for too long, if not always, my goal has been to figure out what my goal is. I’m wandering, not necessarily aimlessly, but aimless by definition.  I lack purpose and context, and any desires or interests that might create such jump and transform too quickly to give shape that I can understand or hold on to.

I would argue this as my mid-life crisis, except for it’s recurrence.  I don’t think the definition of said concept includes multiple instances spread out over time.

I’ve always argued/validated my lack of success as not wanting to peak early.  I’ve never envied the high-school prom queens, the college star quarterback, the one-hit wonder entertainers, because your moment of glory comes, is, and is shortly naught but nostalgia. Honestly, it has taken me time (and no small amount of berating from past friends) to get past living in the past, reaching back for lost moments of happiness.  But I have — I recognize the things I’ve lost or let go, rather than grasp for what will no longer be,  I strive to recreate what made me happy, to seek out those qualities in my future.

So there’s that, the recognition thing. But what else?  What am I missing?  Even worse, am I staring it right in the eyes and not seeing it, focusing incorrectly?

When is the winter of my discontent made glorious summer? Probably when I finally get a grasp on this relax thing.

Death has done her work this morning
Cutting me back down to size
Frozen in this winter warning
Gentle in it’s own demise

Starving sun in deep November
It cannot feed us any more
Leaving us this stark reminder
Of things we should have done before

Even as our days are numbered
I can feel it getting near
Deafened by the sounds of others
Who only got as far as here

In the chilling of the evening
They find the ones that won’t survive
Taken as the day surrenders
While we fight to stay alive

Can you feel the summer ending?
Will this be the end of me?
Afraid of all that might have happened
And all that never came to be

Will you tell me when it’s gone?
Will you tell me when it’s over?

Even though it’s just begun
Even though I’m going over
Death has done her work this morning
Cutting me back down to size
Snowman (Frost*) (demo)

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