16 October 2012

the one thing.

Sometimes I feel good. For no reason. But not really for no reason, I guess. Maybe it's the coffee I've drunk—or the sleep I've slept—or the forgetting I've done. I forget sometimes how pointless it is. And I'm not trying to be fancy about it, or philosophical. This isn't the pointlessness of another little man poised against—what exactly?  Fate?  Oblivion?  Uncertainty?  All of the above. Every kind of metaphor for feeling insignificant or powerless. But that's not the kind of pointless I'm talking about. Not here, not now. Sure, I feel that way too—sometimes—but it's easier to put that aside. It's too big to handle all at once, so we (meaning I) just put it aside. When there's everything on earth that needs to be done, it's easier to do nothing at all, I think, than when there's only one thing. One unpleasant thing. There's no shame in giving up when the universe is against you. You're almost a fool otherwise. But when there's only one thing—that one thing presses down hard against you. Makes it feel hard to breathe—because you can't open your lungs wide enough. There's so much air you want but you can't have it. Your lungs are drying out and giving up. Well, not really. But that's how it feels when it's just you and that one thing that must be done. There's that word again: must. You'd think if anything must be done, it'd be done already. Is that what must means? That there isn't any other way around it? But there always is—and it's the space between the must and what we actually do that marks out our failures. I haven't done what I must. There's always something—yes, there's always something that must-needs-doing that hasn't yet been done. If I forget the one thing that needs to be done, then for as long as I forget, I feel good. Goodness of feeling is forgetfulness of the thing needful of being done. When everything needs to be done, nobody blames us for doing nothing because there's too much there against us. Nobody notices that we didn't do this or that particular thing because all things are uniformly undone. But when there is only one thing that has been set out against us as needing to be done then we are bound to it always. Its not being done presses down hard against us—us being me—it being the Thing. The One Thing. The one thing that I have standing against me may not be your thing but each of us has our own certain thing. There is a space between finding that certain thing and dropping dead during which me must (try to) do the thing. We must work at the thing. There's that word again: must. It seems like a long time. Between finding the thing and dropping dead, I mean, but it's really not. Well, it is a long time and it isn't. It's a long time to spend doing things others than the thing, but it's a short time for doing the actual thing, which we don't ever want to do because of that must. If it must be done, then why isn't it? Things that must be done should be as easy and thoughtless to do as breathing, which is hard to do when the one thing is pressing hard against you. 


  1. My problem is I can't easily forget that which must be done. I can try to push it aside, but all it does is leave me with a vague feeling of dread. I think the happiest people are those who don't give a fuck about that which must be done: they have no intention of completing the task in the first place. Thus, happiness.

  2. I get you, David. Sometimes the good fight seems so futile, I just want to say "fuck it", but if I do- even temporarily- I can't really enjoy the freedom it affords, because there is still a voice in the back of my mind saying "Yeah, but what about..."

    If I understand meditation, generic Eastern mysticism, and binge drinking properly (and there's a good chance I don't), the point of all of these is to help you forget that last One Thing.

  3. My one thing was always my job. I was so filled with resentment over the pointlessness of what I did, in addition to the countless hours of my time required to do it. The getting up at a certain time, having to be arrive at the office at a certain time, the requirement to attend meeting after meeting, and the onslaught of unnecessary emails just sucked the life out of me. I probably worked so many more hours than I needed to because I had no energy to push through the smallest task, let alone the big stuff.

    In changing jobs these last few weeks I feel a freedom I don't think I've felt in my entire adult life. I read somewhere that depression comes from a lack of control, and while I know I am still in a honeymoon stage, the lightness I feel is now accompanied by greater focus and a generally better attitude. Working from home offers me the ability to start when I want (within reason), not be taken out of my home for an obligatory number of hours, be there for my loved ones and take better care of my home. I used to be so bitter if I ever had to work on the weekend or late evenings, but now I find myself happily researching a project on my couch on a Saturday night. The "must" has been taken out of my day - yes, I must perform at my job, but it's now become simply what I do vs. what I HAVE to do.

    Tougher days are ahead for sure, and I have moments of intense anxiety as I am trying to learn a new job and organization, but this change has done me good and took that "one thing" (which was really a million little things rolled into one) out of my daily life.

    Don't worry - I'm still miserable and depressed over many other things life serves up. And I have to wonder why it took me almost 20 years of suffering to take a risk and make a change. It "must" be the Catholic in me.

  4. The very word forget triggers remembrance. Almost hyperthymestic in my case. It's the forgetting that must be done aggressively.