Posted by: scintillatingspeck | October 10, 2015

Efficiency.

My mind is railing and wailing and not letting up, today.  I tell myself:  Hey!  It could be worse; I could be flattened with despair and self-loathing, unable to move.  True enough.  So, this is probably what needs to come first: some acknowledgment that I am functioning and able to do stuff like eat, get dressed, walk to the library, and write.  Do you hear me, Me?  You did that.  And I respond, that’s dumb, that’s not enough, I’m not accomplishing things, I should have figured out my life by now, I should have a book written, I should be seizing control of my circumstances, I should be changing everything so that Lily and I can have more of our needs met…  Oh for crying out loud, I really don’t want to be having this argument with myself.  Can it just stop?!

I think my mind is still colonized by this cultural artifact of efficiency.  Underneath, I have this warped view that I should be maximizing every second of my life, that no time should be “wasted,” that I must be goal-oriented and constantly working towards streamlining my labors so that “production” can increase and the most “profit” can be gained.  Gee, I wonder where this metaphor comes from?!  Is it not enough to recognize that capitalism as a system is deeply flawed?  Do I have to trace it all the way down into my little, speckish brain?  Apparently so.

It isn’t a wonder to me, then, that my speckish brain might choose a type of mutiny that is especially devastating and repugnant to the forces of efficiency: depression.  Could anything be less efficient, less productive?  It’s not just walking off the assembly line, it’s lying down in the middle of the floor in the fetal position and alarming the other workers.  And there are widgets that need to be built, damn it!  There are people to impress, or else be deemed completely unworthy!  But in the core of the depressive anguish, I seem to hear a resounding, basso profondo NO to the entire construct of what it means to be acceptable.  NO, I do not find it okay to exist in a culture of oppression, violence, extreme competition, hierarchy, and greed.  NO, I don’t want to put myself “out there” in the ways that are demanded.  NO, I most emphatically do not fit in, and I don’t want to, not in THIS.  NO NO NO NO NO.

This is how I make any sense to myself, writing like this.  This is how I deal with my lack of efficiency.  This is how I can treat myself with compassion, which enables me to treat others with compassion.  I can tell myself, without a trace of guile, that there’s no skipping over this seeming “inefficiency”—it’s an integral part of my work.  This is the work, right here, especially the parts that are most invisible to other human animals.  The most I can hope for is to make it visible to myself.  I’m not here to fulfill expectations.  I don’t think any of us are.  Maybe that’s pure treason in the Culture of Busy, but I see more and more that I truly believe it.  We don’t exist to jump through hoops, our own or anybody else’s.  Yes, I think just about every system and institution in our culture is about hoop-jumping, and I think the vast majority of it could be eliminated.  What do we REALLY need?  How can we work towards all of us getting what we really need?

Here’s something I need: to keep questioning and dismantling this efficiency habit.  I feel reasonably sure that if I didn’t have that ingrained anxiety about never performing adequately or speedily enough, that the ensuing peace would enable me to get a lot more done.  And what I would get done would not be dictated by others’ expectations, but by a genuine appreciation of the merits of each task.

You know I think about the book I’m writing all the time, right?  It doesn’t mean I’m always writing.  But I see how I’m working with it in my head and heart, the parts that make me choke and stumble, as well as the parts that remind me why I felt such urgency about writing in the first place.  It’s a living part of my flesh and consciousness, although it doesn’t exist yet.  It’s another piece of how I make sense to myself.  The other day a single word came to me, and I thought: this could be the unifying concept I’ve been stumbling towards all this time.  This is it; this is what the whole enchilada is about.  I don’t feel like I can share it yet.  I’m holding it close, intimately, letting it tell its long stories, letting it announce its own importance.  It tells me:  this book was never about simply producing an object for consumption.  You stay true to the real work.  This is your heart’s dissertation.  It’s long and exhausting and bewildering, just like your trip.  You will write.  You will even finish this book.  Semper fidelis.

 

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Responses

  1. I can relate with what you are going through. The inner voices in my head are always ready to break into a song on how I am wasting away these productive years of my young adult life. I have no idea what to do in the future, I know I will figure something out. But the voices dont seem to shut.
    For me it has almost become either super efficient or no work done at all. Sigh.
    Good luck with the book! I am sure you will figure a way out. All the best! 😀

    • Thanks, Fictionatrix. I appreciate the encouragement, and encourage you as well to see the value in your “wasted” time.


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