Since this is, after all, my blog, I thought I’d go in for a little more navel gazing. One of the things that I decided to do many years ago was to commit to the things that I’m doing, and commit to the full experience of them. I’ve found that, strangely, I have more time to do things because I commit to experiencing them. This isn’t about commitment in the relationship sense.
It’s really possible to half-ass your way through life. A lot of people do this, even consciously. I find that I have to constantly examine myself and my motives to make sure that I don’t. I end up constructing the ‘Analog I,’ which is a term I picked up from Julian Jaynes’ The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, to try and figure out both what my motives are and to figure out if I’m acting consistently with those motives.
If I think I should be doing something, than generally it’s worth doing right, and part of not half-assing something is figuring out what it means to do something and then do it with full commitment. I think part of this is figuring out what I can actually succeed at. The best example of this is probably relationships — I know that I can make one woman really happy in a relationship; why would I want to make two (or more) women vaguely satisfied? I’m therefore comfortable monogamously, and don’t have any real urges to fuck up. Or, more realistically, no urge to act on urges to fuck up.
This is mostly important in my life because I do a lot of things, and I get crazy ideas for projects and then do them. So, to keep things sane, and to keep one project-of-obsession from destroying my life, I consciously analyze myself and my motivations for my decisions. I like this system better than the 4 Hour Work Week system of just neglecting anything that isn’t important. For me, there’s the right amount of attention to be paid to all things, the Quality of Service item.
I’d like to compare these two quotes.
from the 4HWW blog entry above:
As tempting as it is to “just check e-mail for one minute,” I didn’t do it. I know from experience that any problem found in the inbox will linger on the brain for hours or days after you shut-down the computer, rendering “free time” useless with preoccupation. It’s the worst of states, where you experience neither relaxation nor productivity. Be focused on work or focused on something else, never in-between.
A koan from Basho:
As two Zen monks walked along a muddy, rain-drenched road, they came upon a lovely woman attempting to cross a large mud puddle. The elder monk stopped beside the woman, lifted his arms, and carried her across the puddle. He set her gently down on the dry ridge of the road.
After bowing politely to the woman, the two monks continued down the muddy road. The younger monk was sullen and silent as they walked along. They traveled over the hills, down around the valleys, trough a town, and under forest trees. At last, after many hours had passed, the younger monk scolded the elder, “You are aware that we monks do not touch women! Why did you carry that girl?”
The elder monk slowly turned and smiled. He said, “My dear young brother, you have such heavy thoughts! I left the woman alongside the road hours ago. Why are you still carrying her?”
Anyway, that’s the difference in approach I’d like to make clear. I strive for mindfulness, and frequently make it or don’t. The floor of my apartment remains a mess, but I think that effort of committing to things and giving them my full attention is worth it. After all, never whistle while you’re pissing.