Escape From Your Escape

There’s a story in me that needs to be shared. That need is mine, not anyone else’s. In the years leading up to this point in my life I’ve spent many moments contemplating whether or not it was a story worth sharing. What I failed to notice is that such contemplation reflected a concern for how it was to be received, rather than what needed to be told. I was distracted, and my cycles of distraction were often, and still are, nurtured by legitimate demands for my time elsewhere.

Avoiding the write has been easy. I still have a morbid chuckle internally when I recall one of the reasons for which my proposal for marriage was declined. I was told that I’m apparently too responsible. Be that as it may, it seems that those with less responsibility are supposedly more inclined to be more responsible towards others. They walk among us. Back to the point at hand, such levels of responsibility provide me with an infinite source of reasons, not excuses, not to pursue the more daunting goals of my life. Prioritising where to expend my limited energy resources has become a fine art. My next area of focus is how to execute on those beautifully informed decisions of prioritisation. I hope to get to it as soon as I’m done doing this other thing that is so important.

The cycle gets quite entertaining at times. Along with entertainment comes the need to snack. So the binge snacking to accompany such entertaining cycles causes my mid-drift to drift more than it should. And so a new cycle of restraint is spawned, often with little success. The upside is that it creates the perfect opportunity to get a cardio workout simply by kneeling down to cut some wood. I’ve never broken into such a profuse sweat in such a short time before. I’m not sure if that means I’m getting better or worse at it because perspiration is supposed to be a healthy thing, along with a good cardio workout, not so?

Cynicism aside (as if that’s even possible) the cycle of responsibility is not always a healthy one. In my case, it has proven to shore up my procrastination in important things (like writing that book) because there are always urgent things that justifiably distract me from what I should be doing instead. Worse than this, I’ve found myself having to consciously re-focus on what needs to be done when faced with trying circumstances, or frustrating relationships. This is a new experience for me because it was second nature until recently. I think it suggests that my de-personalization disorder must be fading. Disorder my ass.

I’ve started choosing differently from before. What used to drive me is not as persuasive for my investment of energy these days. I’m more inclined to recede from ridiculousness than to dive in to salvage what little sanity might exist. There was a time when I defended sanity without question regardless of the potential fulfilment from the outcome. Is this what it feels like to get old? I wouldn’t know, because I’m not old, I’m just well-worn.

The joy of having much life in your years is that you get to laugh at yourself more while others are still following a predefined schedule on how to live their lives, all the while thinking that they own it. Distractions can be fun, and immensely rewarding if a prominent mid-drift is anything to go by. However, along with such indulgence comes a need to reconsider what is or is not negotiable in my life. One thing I still refuse to do is act my age relative to the stereotypes propped up by society. I also refuse to buy a bigger pants size just because my current one is getting too tight from all the fulfilling entertainment I need alongside my responsibilities. And I also refuse to outsource everything that can be outsourced because even though mending things around the house, or building stuff is a distraction from what I should be doing instead, it is also an important part of my self-reflection, my self-worth, and my contribution in kind, not just in cash, to those around me.

Outsourcing is the ultimate distraction. It’s also a very effective vicious cycle. For me, it goes something like this. I do my own stuff and get my hands dirty because I enjoy what I do. That enjoyment attracts the passion of others that have a similar interest, and in the workplace, this means more opportunities and in turn (sometimes) improved remuneration. That improved remuneration improves my quality of life and the quality of life of those around me. This is a bonus because suddenly the perceived value of my contribution is greater than it was before. However, an improved quality of life requires an improved level of maintenance, and so what I did before to get to this point may have been driven out of passion, but what I need to do to maintain this circumstance is now driven out of necessity. Necessity and passion rarely go together, especially when necessity becomes a matter of obligation rather than choice. Passion is driven by choice, not compulsion.

So the necessities cram up, resulting in less time to do the passionate stuff, resulting in some of that newly earned remuneration to be expended on the necessities that were spawned from the passion that was driven by nothing more than a desire to contribute. Suddenly I miss the simplicity of being able to do without compulsion, and to contribute without expectation. But back to that escape. There appears to be an innate sense that when we’ve struggled against the odds to achieve a moment of gratitude, we deserve an indulgence to make it worthwhile. I’m starting to wonder if that subsequent indulgence is in fact ingratitude for the moment of gratitude that we just achieved. Should that moment of gratitude not be sufficient reward itself?

I know there’s a point in here somewhere. It seems elusive but I think it has to do with recognising when our deliberate efforts and conscious decisions spawn a cycle of their own, which is grounded in a beginning that was based on conscious choice and therefore suggests to us that anything that we do as a result of that cycle must by definition be a conscious choice and not a distraction. It’s like doing something for so long that eventually you stop questioning why it needs to be done and just accept it as a necessity. That’s when mindfulness gives way for habits or rituals that get respected for their cultural value rather than for the value that they offer.

Quality of life is a difficult concept to quantify. Is my life of a greater quality because I live with purpose, or is there quality in the moments of indulgence that were spawned without specific purpose? Is it a combination of the two? Probably, but here’s the rub. The moment I start contemplating it, it loses its spontaneity which erodes the passion, and subsequently takes on a burdensome aura which inherently detracts from what could be argued to be a good quality of life. This is tiring.

To escape from the escape we thought we deserved, requires a recognition of the fact that what we’re escaping from was in fact ensnaring us in the first place. A spontaneous celebration of life must remain a spontaneous celebration of life. The moment we hold an expectation that each major milestone warrants an indulgence, the indulgence becomes an entitled reward which taints our commitment to the greater goals because suddenly the absence of a substantial reward dulls the appeal of the goal itself. And along with it, the passion with which we once lived our lives.

[I’m still convinced that there is a point in there somewhere…as soon as I find it, I shall celebrate it…]

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