I am baffled at how an entire day can go by and I spend those many hours, free of employment and other encumbrances, and accomplish so very little. To be fair, I am baffled by much of life. Not knowing how to be “productive” is one of many ways I have failed at this endeavor.
The magnitude of this situation was brought home when I stumbled across these two videos on YouTube. This guy blew my mind; check him out.
I do not think he manipulates these videos. I researched him a bit, and in 2017, he moved his bakery trailer from Bozeman, Montana (of all places) to – Spain! (I think he’s still there.) Not the first time he’s gone to Europe, including Russia, to learn and teach. He seems to be the real deal, which, for my purposes, is this:
A person who gets an amazing amount of productive, meaningful work done in the hours available to him.
I don’t know if he’s my hero or someone I need to track down and put out of my misery.
Depression, of course, is a disabling affliction: the ability to live a full life is undermined, not quite as starkly as if I were to lose my sight or ability to walk – and yes, I know, these “disabilities” do not mean an inability to live a full life, but they damn sure make that a challenge – but, because this has been going on for most of my life, the loss of ability is overwhelming at times.
And very sucky the rest of the time.
So I got out a sheet of paper and listed the main things I do during the week and how much time they took. I could easily spend 8-1/2 hours each day doing these things. Throw in meals, breaks, and travel, and I have a long, full day available to me. And honestly, there’s no reason I couldn’t start at 7am (and by start, I mean: get up, make a mug of tea, and then read for 2 hours).
Yes, I do waste a ton of time each day. One thing I face is that I can often sit down in front of my computer to do something useful (and meaningful) and I’ll immediately be exhausted. My brain will have no idea what to do next. Or I can spend 15 minutes on something and then have no desire to continue. This isn’t laziness I’m describing; this is a brain that has been broken by long years of a mental illness I didn’t even know was part of my brain for most of the time.
And for which I’ve been unable to find decent health care. Thanks, America.
The good news: this is changing. I am doing some of the basics anyone with time management issues needs to do. More importantly, I am coming to an understanding of my health situation. I see and feel changes happening – slowly, yes, but I know these changes are happening. Meditation is a large part of it, but critically so is an understanding of what dharmic freedom is (ie, secular Buddhism). As a good American, and one who got way too deep in fundamentalist Christianity as a teenager, dualistic thinking rooted in good/evil dominates how I view my life.
I am working hard to uproot that and make my life a value-neutral place. Values are human creations and have no intrinsic truth or meaning. This means I am not “wasting” a day by being “unproductive”; I am just spending a day doing stuff. Just like everyone else in the world, from Trump to my 3-year-old grandson.
Doing stuff that has no inherent meaning or value. 100 years from today, almost every person alive today will be dead. Dead and gone and done. So what if I spend half the day watching YouTube and the other half feeling sorry for myself? I am free to “waste” my life if I want. It won’t really matter in the end. I’ll die, my kids will die, my grandkids and so on. In terms of the Earth’s lifespan, our suffering or otherwise will last for a mere blink, if that.
We simply do not matter.
And yet – here we are. Here I am. I find myself unable to say “Fuck it all” and spend my life doing “unproductive” stuff. I am trying to understand what my ethics and values are – which is a bit of a lift given that I’m still dealing with a brain distorted by depression and anxiety. (And a shout-out to neuroscience for discovering more and more about how these are physical ailments, entirely embodied in the brain; they are not moral failings in the least, no matter how much I try to convince myself they are.)
I’d really like to be the productive, vital person I dream about. I can be that person, too; I know I can. It’s just going to take time. I have a lot of healing to do. I have a lot of brain rewiring to do. I have a bunch of old habits to unlearn and new ones to develop. I keep having impulses to do “big” projects; I even have conversations with people about them.
That might be premature. Or timely. We’ll see. Step one isn’t setting myself up for a big project.
Step one is a day that brings satisfaction at how I’ve lived it. No matter how much, or how little, I get done.
(Which today will include baking bread. And maybe some more fruit handpies.)
Here’s Mark Sinclair teaching baking in Russia and what I assume is his work home in Spain.