I’ve got like ten (!) things competing for my time at any one time: R, other friends, the blog, the job, physical activity, mental activity, de-stressing, future planning, financial decisions, and my share (small may it be) of doing wedding stuff. And that’s just the stuff I “have” to do. What about all the things I WANT to do? Learn to sail, ride a motorcycle, get a pilot’s license, skydiver’s license, be around dogs, help people in a meaningful way, entertain people, bring new things into the world and make it a more interesting place.
Am I the only one in this situation? EFF-EWE-SEE-KAY no I’m not. In fact, we’re (mostly) all in this situation because we’ve created all these different things that we can do, that interest us, that get us going, that make us whole. Why? BECAUSE WE ALL SPEND 40 HOURS (more than a third of our waking life) DOING SH!T THAT BORES US TO TEARS. Some are more bored than others, but there’s degrees to everything.
Because we’re so bored, we look for other avenues of getting excited, getting passionate, attaining some sense of fulfillment. And because we only have ~80 hours of “free time” left when we’re not getting beauty sleep, we feel the need to be on all the avenues as much as possible, as quickly as possible, and usually even be on more than one avenue at the same time. Think about it: we add functionality to technology so we can be less connected to our desks, but we end up standing in line at the coffee shop or riding the bus while thumbing some wallet-sized device into oblivion because we’re “wasting” time if we’re not multi-tasking.
I’m not arguing the impulse to be productive. That’s great, and that’s a wonderful input into this capitalistic machine that’s proven itself as the (mainly) self-sustaining model of an economy. But my question is this: would we all be JUST as productive, and perhaps even more so, if we JUST chose, for those 40 hours, to do the ONE thing that would fulfill us? We wouldn’t expend nearly as much energy trying to put ourselves into multiple efforts, and therefore we can be more productive at the singular effort.
So here’s the vicious part of the cycle. We get BORED doing the same thing (unless it’s THE thing, the one thing that Curly bestows upon Mitch during their cattle drive) BECAUSE there are so many options out there. AND because there are so many options out there (including new ones that we create everyday), we tend to think that spending most or all of our time doing any ONE thing is wasteful because WHAT IF we’ve chosen wrongly? What if the thing that we think will fulfill us DOESN’T? There’s no dress rehearsal to this life, so we’ve gotta make this one count, so dammit we have to make sure we find the right roles for us. In order to do so, we attempt to try them all & then pick one.
This kinda ties into an earlier post from this month about the fear of dying and the fear of being “not right.” After all, why else would we care about whether or not the one thing that we’ve chosen to do is the ‘best’ option?
But for shit’s sake, if you look at the rates at which we are DYING from stress-related diseases (indeed, I believe the vast majority of diseases are induced via some sort of stress), cancer, smoking, obesity… we’re so worried about finding the right thing that we’re not even paying attention to where we are right now. We are rowing faster and faster over that waterfall, trying to make sure we see every postcard-perfect snapshot along the way (so that people will see them and remember them & us fondly), and we rarely stop off to check one out or (heaven forbid) pick one spot, moor the canoe, and pop the cooler open.
The big deal here is this: we should all try to figure out one thing and make that our purpose, our goal. Capitalist or not, productive or destructive, trash or treasure, I really think we would all benefit from pulling out of the current, tying the boat up at a cozy spot, and having a beverage. And to Hades with dystopians who think we’d all choose to be loafers, that we’d all choose to be bacchanalian freaks. (These people know crap – they spend their time saying “Everyone, we’re going to hell in a handbasket, but if we did anything differently, it could get worse, so this is our best-case miserable scenario.” How’s that for a mindset?) I firmly believe we’d all be more EFFICIENT (meaning less effort for the same amount of productivity) if we all specialized in our thing. Competitive advantage or some other economic term applies.
And no, I haven’t figured out my one thing yet. For your sake, I hope it’s not this blog. “You are entering a world of pain, son.”