It suddenly seems to me as though a lot of things have been rubbing me quite the wrong way lately, and at the same time I am getting lost in the minutiae of “functionality,” which comes at the expense of “living.” I need to slow down, maybe even stop, take a day or two and recreate. Not recreate as in “do something,” but rather quite the opposite: recreate as in “wander amongst the moments” filled only with a vague sensibility or two and a willingness to embrace adventure.
This all sounds very abstract and dispersed, of course.
The problem is that the big picture is (as sometimes happens) getting lost. It would not be the first time. It got lost when I was working at eBay. It got lost when I was working at ABC-CLIO. I feel as though it is often tied to work (which it certainly is now), but it is also this time, I think, tied to academics.
I am in academics and I work a job only for the improvement of my life. They are means, not ends. Work is no inherent good for me, and cannot be an end in and of itself. To the extent that it becomes so, I lose myself amongst the deadlines and tasks and frustrations and sadnesses that comprise a lifeworld built from alienated activities.
And so when I say “wander amongst the moments” it’s not that I mean that I need to be aimless and not be doing anything at all. It’s that I need to reconsider my task list; rather than asking what needs to be done first from the list of innumerable tasks and how to accomplish it, I need to muse about what I want—bigger picture—and what things do or don’t belong on the task list in the first place.
Time management is like poison for me. Every time I start to engage in it, I cheat myself out of a certain kind of fundamental contentment that I very much like, and at the same time I become antagonistic, exhausted, angry, irritable. I am happiest, in fact, when I engage in the opposite of time management—when I refuse to manage my time or even to think about time at all. When that happens—when there are few or no deadlines and few or no things that I allow to “press” on me, priorities seem almost automatically to realign themselves in ways that I find fulfilling. Other things suffer, of course, and if one looks at them too closely as this suffering goes on, one is tempted to try to rescue them… but in the end there are certain aspects of life that must not be saved, if the others (those that matter) are to survive intact.
In short, I need to recenter. To put it another way, I need to let go and just be, rather than trying all the time to be caught up or to be productive or to be making progress or to be anything in particular at all. It is only without any object that being as such works. Every objective kind of being quite mechanically and obviously creates a false identity between me (or any man) and something that I (or any man) quite clearly am (are) not.