I have a cold. This is intolerable because I never, ever get sick. But my voice has gone strange, my nose is congested, and I feel a bit foggy.
Funny thing is that when you feel a bit foggy, you also look like a different person in the mirror. I’m not sure if this is because the fog of being ill distances mind from body in such a way as to mimic an out-of-body experience when gazing at self, or if this is an effect of the subconscious understanding that you are not yourself, reflected more or less literally by the way that your visual cortex processes stimuli.
But in any case, I don’t feel or look like myself. I feel and look older than myself. This is bad because forty-one years old is plenty old enough as it is.
© Aron Hsiao / 2006
I don’t quite have wrinkles on my face yet, but I certainly have them on elbows (every time I notice it, I am shocked), my hair is graying, my teeth are yellowing, and all of the other stuff that one associates with mid-life, and—let’s be honest—late-middle-mid-life is generally happening.
I don’t like this any more than I like mowing the lawn. N.B. Somehow mowing the lawn the other day brought this rather to the fore; for the first time in my life, I felt like an aging man mowing the lawn, though I’m struggling to put my finger on exactly why. I think it’s because I was very much not in the moment. Sun, wind, grass, dogs running about, physical labor, whatever, I didn’t notice any of it; I was on autopilot, a million miles away, and then the lawn was done and I was sweaty.
Life-on-autopilot is a distinctly middle-aged sensation.
— § —
To try to break free from this autopilot stuff, I have been making changes here and there.
I got another dog, for example. A friend from across the ocean offered me the chance to invite them to stay for a few weeks and I rather jumped at the chance. I have a new car (though in all honesty this wasn’t planned and wouldn’t have happened had my hand not been forced by circumstances).
I do have to balance this sort of thing—to make sure that I am not doing novel things to try and distance myself from myself and my circumstances, to “run away from life” as goes the classic trope. Rather, I want to make changes that—piece by piece, brick by brick—replace a previous and all-too-current life with a new one, eventually.
In an ideal world, the new one would be consciously chosen. As can be read above, it is in fact partially conscious and partially (sadly, probably the greater part) dictated by circumstance.
But new is new, and that’s something.
— § —
Speaking of, I’ve registered two new domain names.
What am I doing thinking about new domain names at a time like this? (At a time like what, I ask myself. Nothing in particular, quite frankly, is going on—yet it still feels like “a time like this.”)
I’m not sure. I want to do something new. I want a project. Yes, I still have the strange and impotent fantasy that at some point I’ll finally get around to pitching my dissertation as a book and, as a result, finally have another book project in the works.
But let’s be honest, that’s been stalled for three years now, not due to external circumstances, but rather due to the subconscious actions of my psyche, which is clearly dead-set against it.
I’m not used to being unproductive, or to being productive only on someone else’s behalf. My entire life—whether at school, working, on vacation, whatever—I’ve always had a project and usually, in fact, several of them ongoing. It is only since I finished my dissertation in 2014 that this has not been the case, and at this point, enough is enough; the lack of independent projects is eating away at my soul.
My ex-wife never understood this and was frankly outraged by the way that I “spread myself thin” all the time, but my projects are the things that have kept me sane all these years and I need to start some of them.
So I keep trying to get myself to put the next book back on the table—the dissertation sits on my desk, black, leather-bound, and always ready to spring into supportive action at a moment’s notice, though it has not yet been called upon to do so.
Meanwhile, two new domains. It is time to try my hand at something new again. I won’t say what they are just yet, I’m going to build them out a little bit first.
But suffice it to say that I’m finally going to attempt to leverage one of the self-help industry’s truisms: do what you love; make your hobby into a job; find your passion; blah very blah but I’m trying it nonetheless.
One of the vexing things about the last three years is that while my entire life I’ve been quite driven (though not always in ways that were visibly obvious to conventional others), my own inner motor has left me more than a bit complacent in recent years. Not being practiced at having to find motivation for things that I actually care about, I am somewhat unsure how to begin, much less to sustain action.
But step one in all cases is to do something, so doing something I am.