Warning: You Will Be Bored if You Read This

My attempt to go back to sleep after I returned to bed shortly after 3:30 was an abject failure. I did close my eyes and attempt to empty my mind of clutter. Instead, I closed my eyes and filled my mind with useless trivia and unnecessary trips down dark alleys strewn with broken dreams dressed as simple mistakes. Yes, I know the sentence I wrote is incomprehensible to the reader. Unless the reader is me. Which, at the moment, is me. At any rate, I did not get back to sleep. I didn’t even get comfortable trying. No matter whether on my back or either side, the attempted sleeping position was uncomfortable. Perhaps I spent too much energy paying attention to my physical discomfort and not enough clearing the weeds in my head.

The inability to sleep is not common with me, but neither is it especially rare. It just happens from time to time. There was a time not too many years ago that I would have gotten up and driven out to an all-night breakfast place, leaving a note for my wife about where I had gone. But on most of those rare occasions, my wife would have had the same experience and we might have gone out together. That’s no longer the case. She hasn’t wanted to go seeking a 3:00 a.m. breakfast in many years. The last time I remember such an adventure, we lived in Dallas and got up to have breakfast at either Waffle House or J’s Breakfast and Burgers. I preferred the latter, as it was truly a local dive, not an institutional, corporate dive.

All this talk of breakfast triggers thoughts about my “Breakfast Around the World” book, one of hundreds of books I’ve never finished writing. I’ve compiled recipes and written narratives about breakfast traditions in many countries, but haven’t finished the research nor efficiently organized the materials I’ve collected. I really should do that. I should finish something. Anything. You know, instead of writing bullshit posts in my blog that contribute absolutely nothing to the world in which we live. A book about breakfast around the world could be meaningful. It could highlight both the similarities and the differences between countries and cultures. It could call attention to the massive disparities that exist between resources available in rich countries versus poor countries. It could, perhaps, spark interest in learning just a bit more about different cultures. And it might help some people develop at least a modest understanding of how all people have much more in common than we think. Yeah, right.

“In a surprise turn of events, a book about breakfast caused peace to break out globally, as people of all cultures embraced one another, sang songs of togetherness and brotherhood, and broke break in an enormous love-fest. Details at ten.”

I talk about combining all my disparate writing into a collection of some sort, stitched together with a common theme (the substance and character of which remain mysterious). But that’s it. Talk. Or, rather, write. I write about doing it. I write about writing. I write about publishing. I think about it. And I do nothing. Damn me! Damn my laziness! Damn my propensity to lose interest so quickly in almost everything that intrigues me for a time. I don’t lose interest. That’s incorrect. I misplace it. I leave it with my keys and my billfold. I sometimes find that it’s hidden under my smart-phone that I inadvertently left in the car. Or it’s buried under a pile of papers that once held my interest and now simply clutter my desk the way their contents clutter my mind.

I’m losing interest in projects for which I’ve either volunteered or to which I was recruited and couldn’t say “no.” At the moment, I don’t care about the Hot Springs Village 50 year history and the book about that history that I was recruited to help write. I don’t care about long range planning. I don’t much care even about the church newsletter that I’ve felt rather good about since I started on it a year ago. And my lack of attachment to these projects isn’t related in any way to my medical challenges. I’ve just burned out on them, I think. Even though I’ve invested almost no time nor energy in some of them, I’m just no longer interested. But I committed to doing them. So I’m stuck between freeing myself of the responsibilities (and therefore feeling guilty and letting people down) and fulfilling my commitments (and resenting them for taking my time and robbing me of opportunities to do things that matter more to me). In fact, though, if I were to extricate myself from my responsibilities, I wouldn’t suddenly find myself enmeshed in things I desperately want to do. Instead, I’d dabble for a while in things that pique my interest and then leave them behind when I no longer find them exciting or interesting. I know me. I know how I am. No matter that I don’t want to be that guy, he is who I am. Unremarkable. I remember reading a surgeon’s comments after he performed an operation during which he removed a rather lengthy stretch of my intestines. He described the diseased bowel that he had removed and then he noted that otherwise “the patient was unremarkable.” Although I knew what it meant in the context of the report, I laughed at the thought that the guy wrote that I was blasé.

Lest anyone who might stumble upon this schizophrenic post think I’m feeling inadequate and unlovable (because that’s how I might read it if I stumbled upon it), that’s not how I feel. Rather, I’m feeling angry for allowing myself to trip over my faults instead of taking action to correct them. I’m not inherently inept. In fact, I think I’m pretty damn “ept.” Seriously, I’m a reasonably intelligent, competent person. I’m just angry at allowing myself to fritter away my intellect and my competencies. I have the capacity to examine my life (or any part thereof), analyze it critically, and take action to adjust the way I live it, with the objective of changing it for the better. Having the capacity and taking the action are different. Kicking myself in the butt is in order. And that’s what I must do if I truly want to emerge from this mood. And I will. I always do. I get in these moods and I bitch and moan for a while but, eventually, I spring out of it. I’m just pissed off that I don’t do it faster. I could. I could if I invested the mental energy. And perhaps I will.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Warning: You Will Be Bored if You Read This

  1. Bev, I think we think alike in many ways. I do think it’s time for me to back away from some commitments that just don’t work for me any longer. I know, though, I won’t be playing any tunes. I didn’t get the music maker gene, just the music listener gene. 😉

  2. bev wigney says:

    Actually, I’m wasn’t too bored reading this post. I see some of myself in it — how I get bored with certain things and want to move on to something else (often quickly). I used to be one of those dependable, stick-to-it people who finished large writing projects – like writing 400 page teaching manuals that took 2 years to complete as they had to go out to consultation committees, etc.. Now, I cringe to even think about such horrible projects. The last of these that I completed was done while I was caring for my father. I’d started it over a year before he became ill and had to keep slogging along with it long after I couldn’t have cared less. I was actually asked if I wanted to quit it and they’d find another author to finish it, but I would have lost a lot of money from the contract, so I stuck it out to the end, but that was the last one of its kind that I’ve ever done — and there will be no others now. Friends suggest that I write a book about my travels and experiences, but I just can’t get interested because such a project takes time and a kind of stick-to-it-ive-ness that I no longer possess. I think that might be a symptom of growing older. Now, I just like little projects that can be done quickly. I don’t actually think there is anything wrong with that. It might just be common sense. Maybe now is a good time to re-evaluate your commitments – particularly the history of Hot Springs one, and drop anything that doesn’t feel right. People will understand and they aren’t going to feel let down. Someone else who is waiting in the wings will no doubt come forward to take up the project at some point. Just do the things that matter to you. For me, playing music with friends has taken the place of a lot of other creative endeavours. I think it’s because it is so instantaneous. You put a bit of time into learning a tune, then you play it with others occasionally. It’s all “done” once it is learned and you move on to something else. That’s all there is to it. And a tune doesn’t take up much space — just some brain cells — or else a sheet of paper, or an 8 kb. file on your iPad if you don’t want to carry it around in your head. More and more, I move toward that kind of minimalism. I think it’s due to all I have seen and experienced in my life — to the point that I feel “experiences” are what count — more than creations. Hope you got back to sleep. 🙂

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