Work-ethic anxiety

‘Yeah I’m going on holiday after this work season finishes. Then I will return to my productive labours at the office. How about you Tim? What are you doing with yourself’? asked William.

‘Oh…I’m currently “between jobs”.’

William looked at him with a slight edge of disdain. Tim wished he could shrink and vanish into a crack in the pavement.

I)

A large source of my anxiety and self-worth problems have historically come from the w-word.

Work.

I used to not do it much. Not doing it much was not very good for my soul, which vegetated in front of the computer, or in front of blank, white walls. At around the age of twenty-three, I stopped playing computer games or staring at walls, and started being more creative. A little bit every day – of writing, music, and game design. I remember a quite specific moment when this rhythm started to sink in. Even though a lot of the writing and creativity didn’t go anywhere, and wasn’t cohesive, creating something every day gave me some direction, self-worth and helped hone my skills.

This ‘work ethic’ is still with me today. However, it is not so useful as it once was. When you are creating things for the necessity of filling some ego-void, it is very easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. The work is not always directed toward any goal, and small accumulation doesn’t always get you anywhere.

Doing tiny bits of work every day is like building a sand-castle, where every time you add a bucketful of sand, half a bucketful has been lost to the laws of entropy, decayed and misshapen. Stepping away from the sand-castle, you can reconsider how it is going, or see it from different perspectives. You could even say fuck this sand-castle, and go do something else!

It is deeply neurotic to feel a severe compulsion to do things. There are days when you cannot create something, when you fall ill or just feel plain uninspired. Is it legitimate to hate yourself and feel deflated on these days? If so it shows a ‘living in the present’ which definitely isn’t mindful or healthy.

So as you can tell, my ‘work ethic’ can be quite destructive and self-negating, a double-edged sword. It is also not necessarily productive. In this sense it has a lot in common with another work ethic.

That of the capitalist world.

II)

There is this destructive belief that we should always be active. We should shun the hours of night and live for the hours of day, scrambling around, doing things. Endlessly doing things. Always doing things.

I have heard many people say ‘I am currently between jobs’, as if all of life was to be contained within the boundaries of work. As if not having a ‘job’ was something to be ashamed of, and required a euphemism.

Yet always being active does not mean one is being productive. A short-sighted measure of productivity misses the much important bigger picture. A busybody might work every day, and think that everyone else has to. In a vigourous rhythm of work, our busybody could easily fail to take care for themselves (I’ve been there), and carry resentment for others who do not share their ‘burden’ (there also). They might think that those who do not share their busybody attitude to work and perpetual industriousness are lazy and in need of ‘motivation’.

But other people might work at a different rhythm. The artist who paints one meaningful brush stroke per week is no less creative than the contracted musician who writes ten advertising jingles a week. In regards to productivity, one person may mindfully achieve more with a single hour of clever labour than a fusty busybody achieves in a week of running around keeping themselves busy.

Because those who stop to consider things can change fundamentals which save everybody time and energy, or which sets us on a better direction.

If a farmer spends ten days sowing ten acres with a shitty plough is he more productive than the farmer who spends five days sowing ten acres with the much better plough he took the time to improve and re-design? One who measures work in days and hours is bound to think that the longer one spends on something, the more productive they are being. This is simply time-filling, not meaningful, praiseworthy labour. Industriousness is no bedrock of pride or productivity.

The idea of a neurotic work-ethic is stopping us from pausing and planning for the precarious future. The more we run on the treadmill, the more we fear to step away, even if the end result is a disastrous collapse. The ceaseless juggernaut of capitalism is literally driving our society blindly over a cliff toward climate catastrophe.

III)

There are essential labours which must always be performed. In the twenty-first century we could make these comparatively few, thanks to technology, human wisdom and the bountifulness of nature. These essential labours do not need a work-ethic to promote them: if they are not done, people will starve and die, buildings will rot and collapse. Nor do they need particular praise or ‘bigging-up’. They get done because they should get done. Those who are able but refuse to perform these essential labours, or create extra work for others, should rightly change their ways, or go away. But to expect everyone to be ever-active is the great folly and conceit of our times.

If someone voluntarily spends their time grinding away at their craft to be the best that can be at it, I have much respect for them. But if someone expects others to always try their hardest, always be active, and be forced into involuntary work, then they can go and sod off.

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The greatest sin

The greatest sin you can commit is to try and perfect yourself.

To hold yourself up to impossible expectations.

To push your body far beyond its capabilities.

To build expectations to be ever happy, ever productive, ever active.

FUCK THAT.

Perfection is self-harm. The light, when too strong, blinds eyes and makes you feel sick.

Crawl in shadows and feel earth under your fingertips.

Show where you are weak, because people will find out anyhow.

Be a spectrum and a totality, not a linear light with its disembodied soul.

 

But the greatest sin of all is to try and perfect yourself.

 

FUCK THE CAPITALIST WORLD
FUCK THE CAPITALIST WORLD
FUCK THE CAPITALIST WORLD

 

New Places

Blog,

I often go on an upward spiral when I remember you. Of late, my handwriting has become so bad my notes are like hieroglyphics! Nonetheless, plentiful wisdoms await, yearning for their chance to the see light.

Writing in this notepad is like finding seeds in a meadow, and expressing them the digging, tilling and planting. Looking back, what I have written is often good advice on the right track; glimmers of what is to come all but presaged. But to embody truth takes something else I cannot quite put my finger on. The words say what would be best for me to do, but this awareness alone has to become practiced and truly embedded someplace deep within. That ‘someplace’ is a mystery beyond us all. As unknowable as the forces behind the cosmos.

And even if we know the right path, day to day bad habits pulls us away. Into tunnel-vision, into bad routines, into negative thinking patterns. I am prone to a lot of this, and the isolation and sadness and frustration that follows.

Of course, even that last paragraph is quite unnecessarily gloomy! Things are not bad now, just wobbly and (occasionally) boring. I have made great steps toward recovery, and crossed a threshold of understanding today.

It is about giving the body the time it needs to process things and heal. I will trust myself and those around me. I will trust the flux of all-things we are contained within.

Life has humbled me; my being turned out to be more than just a mind and its expectations. I must learn to live at a new rhythm, away from impossible expectations and unhealthy obsessions.

Reading has helped enormously. Although anxious and vulnerable, the power of words has a much bigger impact on me. Music too. I experience it now with the vivacity of a child. The world is scary and wonderful again at the same time.

But writing, like a mirror, reflects and expresses. I have created a narrative and history here, through Nyteshade, and I am happy that you are travelling along with me.

At one time, this was the only solace in a harsh and demeaning Winter time. Now the spore has landed and grown into a mushroom, I promise to be more active and restore this good habit!

I want to feel good. I want to be well.

That is self-love, writing is self-love. Please express yourself too. Say how you are, say how you will meet Nyteshade in the dark, colourful glade. Say something whimsical and silly, or just be.

Just bring a quill and parchment!

What I am (to you)

An old vinyl full of sublime sound, never put on

An oil painting from the renaissance, gathering dust in the cellar

A cerulean, sun-soaked sky behind heavy, drawn curtains

A beautiful wandering cat, seeking love from strangers

The words of power that unmake spells of hate, never uttered

A drawer full of field beans, never planted in the garden

A book of depth and colour, you refuse to read

 

You do not need to say the sun is gold and resplendent

For the sun to be gold and resplendent

And if you say the sun is bleak, squat, grey and ugly

That does not make the sun bleak, squat, grey and ugly

 

This is why your words have no power; they speak untruth.

The magick of words is their ability to say what is

For magick is power, and magick is just truth, thus truth is power

 

A proud otter swimming through a running river, whose strength you cannot comprehend

Procrastination

Start writing it

Ask her out

Cancel your card

Leave the house

Take the risk

Send it in

Procrastination – anxiety in action. The brain’s version of two feet fumbling at the edge of a cliff, refusing to just bungeeeeeeee…

The difference between good and great is that good procrastinates and gets there eventually, whereas great is already one step ahead, having missed the procrastination stage.

The worst that can happen is that you could trap yourself in a spiral of negative thinking and unproductive worry!

This means that you are in control of how you feel today. It means that the insurmountable mountain is actually not that steep.

It means that all of the barriers on your path only seem so high because you are hunkering down.

It means that all of the monsters on your quest are infamous only because other people are so afraid of them.

I think procrastination is a form of enchantment – only, in the negative sense of overestimating threat. I suppose dread and fear is as much a part of the imagination as anything!

But it is not a part of the imagination we want to allow to rule our lives.

To ‘not do’ is not the safe option. To ‘not do’ is how phobias and disorders develop, and once they do, it is not easy to reverse them (believe me, I am in the middle of one).

If only I had done this, if only I had done that – also not useful. Procrastination.  What has been is not necessarily what will be. And who can tell where each path would have led, or what you would be now if you had done what.

What you have before you is what you can mould the most. Your destiny is undeniably a continuous thing which cannot be altered easily, as is your character. But the small steps you can make to begin changing that destiny – they can happen anytime.

And once you start winning and changing, the results are exponential. Find something you can feasibly achieve, and feasibly achieve it.

Procrastination – the product of too much intellect and not enough feeling. Get out of your mind for a moment, and back into the whole of yourself…

There is a world to explore

There are unjust systems to deconstruct

There is your novel to write

There is love to be found

There is music to be played

There are seeds to be planted

There is climate destruction to be undone

There is a Trump to be dethroned

 

(If you like this post, share it on social media and help your friends stop procrastinating!)

The Pace of Oppression

Oppression is not a solid thing. It is not a tangible entity. I feel it inside me as a pace of life, a compulsion, a chimera of fear and desire and desperation.

A cursory think about the capitalist system reveals the truth of its oppressive nature. What would happen if you decided to take a spontaneous holiday from work? You would become unemployed. To make ends meet you would have to go to a job centre. They would force you to look for work or participate in some kind of scheme to acquire the basics of living. You would be forced to do things equally as unpleasant as work. In other words, beyond set holidays there is no option to ‘opt out’ of this society for any duration of time. You have to be constantly active, most of the time.

This driving force to endlessly do things is the invisible motor of capitalism. It makes people hugely “productive”. So “productive” in fact that they have no time for hobbies, they have no time for relatives, they have no time for volunteering, they have no time for their children, they have no time for those with mental health problems, they have no time for artists. In fact, they have no time for anyone but the busybodies who think that everyone should be forced to do things, all the time (in other words, the bosses profiting from this sorry state of affairs).

As if this false economy of constant motion is somehow a noble end! As if endless consumption and the environmental devastation that follows is an inevitable law of human societies. Please! Do not be such an underachiever.

Human beings who are forced to do things they do not want to do become miserable. And human beings forced to do things they do not want to do, will do so in a half-assed, second-rate way. Left to their own devices, human beings will naturally labour to improve their lot. This is not only because they have to, in order to survive, but also because labour can actually be rather pleasant when done for the common good, and at one’s own pace.  Doubly so when we can actually enjoy the products of our labour, rather than feeding the super rich parasites draining us all.

Pause. Take breath.

We are emotional beings, children of nature. We are not machines waiting to be driven by a crankshaft. Any mechanistic, deterministic view of humanity has to die; we must be liberated from the tyranny of forced work. This race for productivity, to make more and more and more without even having the time to enjoy the fruits of our labour – the quickest way to describe it is a load of old bollocks. The most severe way as a deep waste of potential, and massive cause of anxiety and depression.

To feel like you have to constantly fill your life is a waste of that life. A window is useful because it is an absence of material; a bowl is most useful when it is empty; a wheel runs swifter that has gaps in it. The right to philosophical contemplation, to idle play, to whimsical creation, or just to lie in and have an indulgent wank, is essential to human happiness. Why is our society bent against such simple pleasures and basic securities?

Until the basics of life are provided for, and until labour is performed at our own pace for the common good of all, endless miserable work is the lingering doom we are going to have to live with. This is our inheritance of the archaic capitalist system, which no one really believes in, but the cowardly, uninspired masses go along with for their apathetic lack of hope in humankind.

If you believe that people should be allowed to work as what they want to be, rather than what they are forced to be, congratulations, you are a liberated socialist.

No more neurotic dreams…

Running away, from place to place. As if you can outpace your shadow. Throwing yourself onto the back of another’s horse, begging them to save you. Is this the path to inner-healing? Is this going to lift you out of your tumult and darkest pain?

There is no utopia inviting you, there is no perfect woman waiting for you to find her. Nothing better awaits until you are strong inside yourself. No one is an island, but you must have a basis of self-love and self-worth in order to do any good for the world.

Have you got it? Look deep inside, is it truly there?

Finding this is not a sudden process, and cannot be rushed. Though it may have climaxes and peaks, it requires the opening of pandora’s box, and I wonder how much control we have over such an action. Perhaps you are lucky if you have a crisis, for now you can unlock the truth.

Your secret box is finally open, and now you are looking within, into places of deep daring. You are one with your hurt, even as it heals. And the closer you get to truly actualizing what is within yourself, the harder it is going to get. That final leap, to become a knight of faith, is the hardest step of all, harder than first opening the box or even taking up your sword.

Therefore, do not be surprised if your trembling, fearful inner-child gets worse with time, until the final battle with the ultimate shadow.

And when you face it down, know that you cannot defeat it with even the broadest of swords, for that thing is part of yourself, and to harm it is to harm yourself. Know it, and you know part of thyself. Embrace it, forgive it, and you achieve the ultimate courage, whatever others may say to you.

You accept yourself as a flawed, weak, vulnerable being, and in doing so grow tenfold in flexibility and adaptability. You become ready to evolve into something better.

There is no escaping the inner-truth, so do not long for worlds of fantasy. Do not be so absorbed in art that it loses all relevance to the world-as-it-is. Do not believe the propaganda  of saviours. Do not run from yourself, however painful the feelings, however harsh and hard the thoughts. Do not hide behind work and routine, this is to make reality mundane. You must face yourself.

Every experience is part of your history, and cannot be repressed. Nor can you stop them from impacting upon your conscious behaviour now, in the present, unless you take them unto yourself and resolve yourself. There are many patterns inside of you which you do not realize, and these shape your character. If you have not the tools and sensitivity to unweave that personal destiny, you are a slave to a motive deeper than your conscious being.

The truth must be dug up, and held up. What you truly are, a wonderful conflux of experiences and attitudes, must be beheld by your conscious mind. You must come into the present in order to truly find yourself.

Then you can take the largest step of all, and the hardest. Into true selfhood, as an actualized being of nature. Of course, darknesses and patterns will accumulate again, and there is no final enlightenment. But you will be much more prepared to deal with challenges, in a mature and adult way. You will be more than the sum of your pain and neuroses.

Fear not yourself. Loathe not yourself. Only know thyself, be thyself and love thyself.

The Future

Have you ever felt like the future was hopeless?

I must ask in return – how can that which does not exist have any form of quality?

The future is merely an expected series of moments, no different to these moments at present. Dread of the future requires you to leave the present, but the present is all you really have. And the present, believe it or not, is often bearable.

Things might be difficult now, and tomorrow may or may not bring more difficulty. But when we project into the future, that difficulty becomes magnified many times. Why torture ourselves with such projections? If the present is already quite hard to cope with emotionally, there is no boon in adding a further expectation of misery upon our shoulders!

And besides, as we explored earlier, predictions rest on futility. How things will turn out is unbeknownst to us. The traps are all in our minds; the work of an ego which doesn’t know when to switch off or simply shut the f*** up.

This moment is all we have. You reading this, now, here. Your eyes gazing at the screen, your back against the chair, the air going through your nose and mouth. This is all you have.

A nightmare future is impossible. It is an imagined destiny which can only be fulfilled if you take your thoughts too seriously. Expectation is a never-satisfied beast, which feeds and feeds on hope until it leaves nothing. It is impossible to appease, so why even try to appease it?

Step back from the mind a moment. Turn off the voice inside a moment. Start to trust in your whole being. Let all worries dissipate; they are grounded on nothing but the deranged empiricism of an over-active ego and pained limbic system. We must let our minds and bodies heal.

Fearing the future will not better prepare you for it. Some things, death and suffering, are inevitable. Fortunately, we have the capacity to deal with them – when we do not aggrandise them in our minds. It is only when we long for perpetual comfort, peace, warmth, and freedom that we are least able to appreciate these future promises. By being present we can accept the yin and yang that is life. When we let the unnameable nature within and without guide us, we find our way. For this enigmatic something is far more ancient than the mind, and far wiser.

Stop digging yourself into a hole. Accept what is now. The future is not hopeless or hopeful. The future is nothing.

A dialogue with anxiety

I WILL PROTECT YOU

No you fool, you will not. What you are doing is debilitating. There is nothing to protect me from. I am strong enough to face the world, I have enough support. The past feelings were wrong.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN?

The feelings of worthlessness which led us here. They were implanted there without good reason. They are the inheritance of tyrants. We are worthy, and this is proven by our deeds.

I DO ONLY WHAT I KNOW

What you know is wrong. It is false. When you were young, the feelings of pain were stronger, but this does not make them true. Truth is determined by what actually is now, not in words and feelings of folly from the path.

I UNDERSTAND

For now you may. But return not tomorrow to hold me back! I know what I am capable of anxiety, and I know the risks.