Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Charlie Brown formula

It’s 1 am in the morning, and I can’t sleep. This is rarity for me, because normally I operate on a level of perpetual sleep deprivation that I can sleep anytime, anywhere, at the drop of a hat, as soon as I stop moving. Must be some free-floating anxiety about school starting up soon at UNC. A tagline popped into my head as I was lying bed: “The Self Knowledge Symposium: transforming vague anxity into actionable guilt since 1989.”

My boss told me today: “You need to take a really extravagant vacation. Go somewhere, do something. I know you have your SKS and everything, but you can’t just work all the time. You need something to look forward to, a reward for the work you’ve done.” My immediate gut-level reaction was, “Yeah, but I don’t feel like myself when I’m not working.”

He may be on to something, though. The truth is that, at 1 am, I don’t always know what is motivating me. I experience brief highs (like, 15 seconds of happiness) when I solve a problem at work; I do a little happy-dance when the code does what it should. But then I’m moving on to the next fire. Daily victories breaking up a sea of dread . . . it’s hard to connect the day-to-day trials to the big picture, which isn’t a good sign.

Charlie Brown said: “Happiness is three things to look forward to and nothing to dread.” I always thought that was a pretty good functional definition of happiness. It showed some special self-knowledge on the part of Charlie Brown, since, by that definition, he was rarely if ever happy. Charlie Brown was the poster-child of dread; 90% of the humor in the Peanuts cartoon hovered around his impending sense of doom, interspersed with brief respites of joy and love. It’s also why, in spite of him being such a sadsack, so many people connected with him. Charlie Brown was Everyman; we all felt the same way.

So what am I looking forward to?

Let me get back to you on that . . . because, man, am I slammed with work right now.


Post a Comment

<< Home