Tuesday, January 11, 2011


It hit me again today, this feeling. This is a well-known, though not welcome, acquaintance. It's inertia, malaise, the deep desire to curl up and do nothing, nothing except watch the world go by. It comes most often when I'm tired, when my list of obligations and responsibilities seems never-ending. Yet it's not a healthy thing, it's not a desire to rest, gain energy, and then to head out again... it's a feeling that every action is a burden. It's hard to describe- when this feeling taps me on the shoulder, I feel like there are weights on my arms and legs, and that the best thing in life would be to find a comfortable bed, pile up magazines and books, and never move from that spot again.

Part of this is circumstantial, I know- the aforementioned lack of sleep, and the times when I take in way too much sugar, so that I'm crashing and reaching for more candy or pasta and then repeating the cycle. After eating some vegetables and eggs tonight, I feel amazingly better. But it's deeper than that, because more than just bouts of fatigue, I feel like I'm out of sync with the rest of the people out there who want to do things. I don't want to do anything; I want to read, watch, and rest, and that's about it. This is not good, and I want follow this thing down to the root and then get it out.

Here is something that maybe is closer to the root: I see so many people who want to make things, who enjoy the process of creating. People build furniture; they cook gourmet meals; they write stories; they sew; they exercise, building their body; they build lovely, inspiring blogs; they compose; they paint. These all sound like chores to me, like tasks that have to be done, not things that I would want to do voluntarily. From time to time, a burst of creativity squeezes out of me, but not often. The couch and a book sound much more appealing (short-term, of course, not long-term: I would love to be the person who writes, who builds, who sews, who exercises). And I need to figure out if it's just that reading and watching the world and resting are truly the things that I enjoy the most, or if there's something I'm running from, something I'm trying to escape about myself.

I hope I can figure it out.


David said...

I know the feeling... I think. It happens to me more often than I think I'd like to admit. It happens most to me on those days when my list of things I "must" get done is longer than average, when things are on my mind that I want to accomplish, but require resources, time, or just money that I don't have.

But I think I found the root of what drives that problem for me. Expectations. I expect too much of myself too soon. Projects look intimidating not because they are, but because my expectations of how I get it done are too high. I want to do X, but feel like I can't do X because I can't do it well enough soon enough. I don't leave myself room for small steps, room to learn.

Oh. And I found a name for these expectations of myself that demand discouraging and demotivating levels of performance: perfectionism.

It's just my story, but maybe somehow that helps.

Margaret said...

thanks, Dave.... it's funny, but just after I posted and re-read what I'd written, I thought that a big part of this for me is the fact that if I can't do it perfectly, I don't want to do it. Perfectionism, as you said. It's hard to de-program oneself!

And what goes around comes around... Madeleine is showing the same tendency- if something is hard, she doens't want to try it. She won't play with toys, like shape-sorters, that aren't easy for her to do. She asks for help right away or ignores them. So now I get to figure out how to correct this in me, and in her too. :-)