Reasoning towards a meaningful life, part 8: Being Perfect

In this last post I will match the life that will make me feel happy with the reality of my daily life. In other words, I’ll try and fit a square thing in a round hole.

Square Peg in a Round Hole_0565

Let me list some of the practicalities that make the shape of the hole in which I am trying to fit. Not abiding to them will be a recipe for disaster and disappointment soon or later on.

  1. My eyesight is worsening. I’ve been having double vision for over a year now. It is not getting better. There’s a history of eye trouble in the family ánd I carry a few genes that will facilitate said trouble.
  2. I have a chronic fatigue illness. It is not healing any time soon. The last few months I got one hour up-time twice a day. Before that I got three times. I probably will get back to that. Perhaps even get up to four hours. But it will be slowly and it will never be 8 hours up and working.
  3. I need daily alternating of work and relaxing. Relaxing time is for relaxing. No judging life during relaxing. No goals and no hurries during relaxing. Enjoy a hobby, knitting is mine.
  4. The alternating needs to be done consciously. Otherwise I’ll just skip on or the other. Go lie on the couch. Go sit at your table and work.
  5. Maintaining the body takes time and effort. I tend to forget this. I fail to allot time for it during the day (because it eats into my uptime). I forget to go pee…
  6. The days need to be quiet. Too many things on my to do list will make me feel jumpy. I will feel inadequate and will skip spending time on ‘useless’ things that are important such as social interaction, hobbies and lying in my bed.
  7. This next item is painful to admit…..but I am not well in the company of my spouse. Somehow part of me gets preoccupied in his presence, even if he just sits there, programming. My energy gets divided, siphoned away. I can’t concentrate (I guess I feel guilty when I do so)
  8. I also keep expecting that us living together should be like two of me living together, with both of us having my eye for detail and my drive for perfection. Of course this is not the case, the man can’t even read my thoughts! (which I still find annoying). Thusly, the house we live in is not the way I’d like it to be. And I blame him. Now please understand, I knów this attitude is rubbish. But this is still how it works for me, after years of trying to alter me. The result is that I am not happy in my house and not happy in the couple.
  9. Words are not my friends. I keep getting frustrated when words are not effective enough to express my thoughts. I blame myself for not communicating in a way that my conversation partner/reader/listener understands. It doesn’t help that my points of view often are in the realm where words are too crude anyway. Still I blame me.
  10. My fascinations are fluid. They change. They have a “best by … date”. I need to grasp the current one and work through it before it looses its viability. Also: there needs to be some sort of end result. Something I can show and share with friends.
  11. My days are unpredictable. When my mind is off, or my body, or the weather, or my inspiration, my day schedule needs to be able to cope with that. Without everything crumbling down. Also, I can no longer live with rigid time tables and must-do lists at which I fail at every time something unexpected happens.

So how do I fit a meaningful life into these restrictions?

pic by Rubenshito

  1. EYESIGHT don’t chose one occupation or skill on which I’ll be dependent for the rest of my life. So no miniature jewelry making or artisan work. Photography is fine as is blockprinting. Learn to knit without looking.
  2. FATIGUE better have some things I can do lying down. The thinking, the drawing, the knitting, it can all be done lyig down. And: for now don’t chose long or labourous production processes for the visible results. So no screen printing, wood carving, performance art or welding. Computer drawing/writing is ok. Painting too.
  3. RELAXING is a conscious decision. Enjoy your downtime. Think of fun things to do when resting and only do those when relaxing. Enjoyable movies, interesting knitting, an hour of surfing. Spend money on your hobbies, use quality yarn.
  4. ALTERNATING devise a basic daily routine. Get up and work then break for lunch and resting.
  5. MIND THE BODY insert daily routines to take care of the body. Routines that take minimal effort. How does one remember to pee? Use alerts. Friendly alerts.
  6. QUIET MIND only put two things per day on the to do list. The rest is bonus. Of course things need to be done to keep life (and the house) running smoothly. However, I can spend less time and effort on them. Just plan smartly, prioritize (when you’re not tired!), lessen any expectations about the perfect household, social relations etc. and delegate. Have someone clean your house, have plenty of storage spaces, install electronic birthdaywishes or reminders, wear the same clothes in different colours. Allot set amount of times to a chore and then do it 60%. Well enough is good enough.
  7. BEING TOGETHER. Got nothing for this one….. Practise? Copy how he does it? He doesn’t lose part of himself in my presence. I have no solution for this one. Yet.
  8. LIVING TOGETHER. Trying to change my husband didn’t work. Trying to change my expectations didn’t work either. The solution is to go towards another, third option: invent a new way of living together that facilitates both his way of living and mine. See the house in a new way and try to invent new ways of living in it. Having an intellectual goal of my own and a separate room to work on it will help. (a previous solution of mine didn’t work: me living my way in the house and having him stay there too. The house is too big for one person to run. And I still got annoyed that he didn’t read my mind).
  9. LANGUAGE. communicate in another media altogether? I lack even more skills in those…  A solution might be to not care so much about being understood completely. Allow room for alternate interpretations of my message and the novel thoughts they may provoke, in both the listener and in me. Adapting this attitude does require some sadness over not being well understood. Basically it tells you you are alone in this life… But if you allow for the sadness you will notice that in other ways people will assure you you are not alone. You’re thoughts are just not that well understood as they are in your head. But you áre known and you áre not alone in this world.
  10. ROTATING FASCINATIONS. Right now I seem to want to block print large sheets of paper, using the printing press. Enjoying an adventure through colours, types of ink and paint, paper and shapes. I could call it wall paper. Sellable artisan wall paper. But I also want to explore lines and illustration and make a little magazine. And I’m learning to sew Haute Couture style. And I’m making a Faraday’s cage. I need to grasp all these fascinations before they grow stale or wither! The solution is to have one job per day. AND have a tangible result to work towards. Even use this as a deadline, to get going every day.
  11. FLEXIBILITY My routines need to be robust but they need not be a harness. There are four things essential in my day: there MUST be food, there MUST be clothes, there MUST be one hour rest on the couch around midday. Also I MUST go pee. Well… that’s not too many musts. That leaves plenty of room to accommodate for unexpected inspirations. All other things can be pushed away or postponed. For example, I can get through the day without brushing teeth (because of my diet). I can live with messy hair. I can walk outside without scaring the neighbours. As long as these four “MUSTs” are met there’s nothing threatening me and I can feel free to drop all other to-do’s and want-to’s and ought-to’s. This is a conscious decision, an attitude I can adopt. A mental attitude.

Hey, this is workable!

pic by ItsMe1985

CONCLUSIONS about HOW MY LIFE IS MEANINGFUL

I get a sense of meaningfulness when my life revolves around exploring a fascination. Explore, play, create. I like to connect with people, using some sort of representation of that explored fascination.

I get a sense of meaningfulness when my life revolves around experiencing good emotions. I like to share these emotional experiences with people. This means going out and experiencing them together. I like that.

Relaxing and sharing relaxing time with friends are also very meaningful past times. No measurable result needs to come from this. Preferably not, actually!

Because of health and character I need certain things in my day. Upon inspection these are not too demanding, if I plan them smartly and if I lessen expectations on all the other things my busy perfectionist brain thinks up. Focusing on the priorities and that they are met should be enough to make me proud of how I live my daily life. Focusing is a conscious decision. A new habit to form. Extremely doable.

I still loose energy when in company of my husband. Has been like this for 15 years. I have no solution. Yet.

I do not need to worry about which fascination to explore, I can do 5 jobs in 5 days. There will always emerge new fascinations, I do not need to worry if one passes me by or when progress is too slow.

Funny how morals, salary, fame or what “they” think of me plays no part in the actual meaning of (my) life. I’ve shed the previous notions of how to rank a human life completely, for me it is enough to go by that inner compass, the one without words. Because in the core I am a decent person, someone with a tendency to do the right thing. I no longer need to worry about that, I can just go about my business and live the life that makes me happy.

brilliant picture by John Nyberg

EPILOGUE

This is the last part, part 8, in a series in which I think myself towards a meaningful life. So I do not feel worthless anymore. Which I did, often and always, as hinted at for a bit in this post.

Coming back to that original post, “A Useless Life”, my feelings were influenced not only by other people’s ideas but also by my tendency to observe and judge myself all the time. This habit is now gone. (yes, I can shed habits that quickly. It correlates with the intensity of the epiphany how wrong or damaging the habit is. I’d call it “a duh! consequence”)

Also I did not distinguish clearly between relaxing time (laying on the couch being “useless”) and production time (which can also be spend on the couch, drawing or writing or thinking). And I was rebelling against how much time I need to lay down, because it feels like loosing to this disease. This is a battle I have twice or three times each year. (ok, three times at least each year, accompanied by a rage because usually I caused it myself by doing too much). It’s always difficult to surrender. To give up, to clear the calendar. To take the disappointments.

It doesn’t reflect on the meaningfulness though. It only requests I shift gears and  rearrange the pace of my days. An additional problem is that in those episodes I cannot think very clear, cannot make those decisions very consciously. I guess I could write down my strategies on a couple of post-its so I have a manual for when the next episode hits…

Looking back at that post about being useless there were three things convincing me. I could logically argue why and how I was useless. I felt useless. I knew it to be true.

While looking into this in the 8 parts you find on this blog I can now conclude that the premisses of my logic was flawed. As was the habit of judging and the standards I used for ranking.  The feeling of uselessness came from focussing on wrong things. Replacing the logic and the premisses and the habits automatically shifted my focus and lead to other feelings. (I don’t think you can change the way you feel about something without a change of view point. You can’t redirect emotions by will.)

The knowing it to be true comes from the feeling and the logic and an insecurity thing or two I picked up in childhood. I don’t know how to fix that last part. Therapy? A healing ritual? Or just living the good life until a new conviction of worthiness takes hold? I’m betting on the last one.

pic by Alicia Solario

Here are the other posts in this series:

1. being in existence
2. being human
3. being judgemental
4. having values
5. having a brain
6. having a heart
7. being me
8. being perfect or just admitting I can’t count

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Reasoning towards a meaningful life, part 7: Being Me

Two more stops remain in my thinking exercise to shut up the feelings of unworthiness for once and for all. Today I meant to think about being me and what would truly give me a feel of worth, now that I have identified the white noise coming from other people’s values, my habits and faulty assumptions.

Unfortunately I’m having a cold and have trouble thinking clearly. A nice attempt to self sabotage. Also, I mislaid the used envelope on which I scribbled the keywords. Sabotage attempt nr 2.

So I’ll just write down some of the things that belong in this part. Later on I’ll try to make it into a coherent thought.

part 7: BEING ME

About what makes me feel worthy. Do not think about what is practical or what my daily limitations are, those are for part 8. Now I look at what makes me sing, what makes me happy (intellectually and otherwise)

BEING ME.

I like an intellectual adventure. Thinking my way through something. It’s that sublimation thing I talked about.

.

.

ehh…?

.

.

o

duh!

I didn’t use an old envelope, I used my green owls notebook! I even showed you a picture of it!  Duh.

I remember where I left that!

 

right, here we go:

  • working on a fascination makes me feel good. Useful. Worthy.
  • I need a visible endresult to feel good. The work needs to be concluded (not just be abandonded) and it needs to be visible. Perhaps aknowledged by others too.
  • a new fascination will always pop up
  • when there’s a bit of time between concluding of one fascination and the beginning of another I can easily start to feel worthless

What? That’s all I wrote? I thought so much more! There’s other things I want to say here. About what kind of fascinations, what kind of results. About being with friends. Even a brilliant piece about pretending I only have 3 months to live (as you do when  you get a cold) and what nugget it brought up. But I’m too muddled right now to remember coherently!

I’m going to leave this here, as a starting point to build upon.

it had to do with blockprinting…working in my loft… producing a calender… I don’t remember! Aaaagh!

 pic by Powerpay

reasoning towards a meaningful life, part 2: Being Human

Feeling worthless for a long time now I’ve set up a reasoning to find my way to a meaningfull life. This is part 2, is there meaning to be found in BEING HUMAN?

pic by Gözde Otman

I’m a human. (Oh go on, let’s just assume so. Squabble squabble SNORE!)

Implications of being human are, amongst others, that I have a body, that I know other humans, that I have intellect, that I have feelings, that I’ve learned to make decisions, that I have language. All these things have consequences for how I value life and how I value my own life. I’ll look at some of them in detail in future parts (5: intellect; 6: feelings)

For now I want to focus on how being a human influences asserting value to something.

A human has a brain. This gives him the chance to predict the future, especially the consequences of his own actions while still in the stage of contemplating which action to take. His predictions colour the value he attaches to his array of possible actions. It may easily cripple his decision making, having him linger in indecisiveness.
This ability to think ahead also gives him an inkling of how his day is going to go, his week, his year. This yields expectations. Expectations are compared to the actual day/week/year. This is a danger zone, full of judgements and disappointment.

pic by Elvis Santana

A human has feelings. Feelings are a formidable force in life. They may give value and meaning to a life in a way that cannot be grasped by the brain.
Feelings give a human a connection to those that are affected by his actions and by his life/existence. This also makes the feedback he gets from those around him pretty powerful.
We should all be skilled in experiencing feelings, in not being afraid of them. Not feeling prompted to act upon them either. Just feel them. I suspect they attach value to a life…

A human is a group animal. This gives all kinds of intertwined messages and feelings on which we try to base standards with which we measure ourselves and others (more explored in part 4).
Apart from this, being a group animal gives us another non-rational set of standards to appoint meaning to our lives. We need interaction with other humans, we are biologically programmed that way. Each to her own degree (hello introverts, you are doing fine).
This means that having a good time with friends (or peers) has something to do with worth. I don’t have a clear idea how but that’s because I’m trying to understand all this with my brain. This is not a brain thing, this is biological thing. A valuable thing, making life meaningful.

A human is an eye-animal. This too is a biological thing. We lóve beauty. A nice pattern. Colours. Horizons, rainbows, patterned animals.

pic by Miguel Ugalde

I don’t know (yet) what this means for leading a valuable life. I just know it would be something a scientist researching us would notice.

A human is a playful animal. This too is in our bones. What does this mean for leading a meaningful life? I don’t know yet… It may just give a tool with which to handle living more easily.

There are other traits that go with human being. I’m sure they too have implications for how we value (our own) life. But these are the ones that came to mind instantly.

CONCLUSION
When determining how to value ones own life it is important to acknowledge our biological characteristics. Some of them invite to attach meaning without relying on intellectual values. For example: feeling good in the company of others or when enjoying a view or playing is good for you. Time spend with friends is time well spend. It is a valuable way of spending time in your life, even if it does not yield visible results.

Also: because you are human your system of standards is muddled. And illogical.

pic by Chris Greene, from Norway

This is part 2 in a 5 part exercise to reason myself out of leading a worthless life:

1. being in existence
2. being human
3. being judgemental
4. having values
5. having a brain
6. having a heart
7. being me
8. being perfectionist or just admitting you can’t count

the post where I admit how utterly worthless I know I am is this one