I am a pretty slow-paced person. Sometimes I talk too fast, but that’s because I’m trying to keep up with my mind. And who can have a slow mind in this anxiety-inducing world? Some of us even like it, which is a phenomenon I wasn’t aware of until recently, and which I can’t begin to comprehend.
The world is full of statisticians. Yes, truly. Even you are one, though you failed maths in school. I can’t casually look to the side, at any time of the day, without seeing someone attempting some sort of challenge. How many times can you run up and down the stairs in an hour? It maybe stupid and boring and exhausting but hey, you’ll get better calves at the end of the day, along with the bright, neon feeling of Accomplishment. That’s what it is about. You don’t need hamsters or rats to experiment on anymore, give any human, of any description, anything to do. Give them the idea of a reward, make it a challenge and off they go. Let’s have a football World Cup for non-footballers with a rotten banana as the, uh, winning cup. See how many billions sign up for that.
And it really is a sound way to live. Whether you have two years to master ten languages, or thirty minutes to eat five large pizzas, being goal-oriented is perhaps the only way to truly make something of your life. Even love has its stages, its check list you have to tick off to be able to say at the end of your life, “Yup, job well done. Grandkids have built us a home in Pluto.”
I’m not going to go into something as high-tech as bullet-journaling today (mainly because I still don’t understand what that is), but I can’t help feeling the odd one out in a goal-oriented world. I’ve always been pretty Zen in my attitude to life. Without the peace of mind, that is. Ideally, I’m more like the ladies in Cranford, which is a nineteenth-century novel about small-town women who meet for tea and discuss such exciting things like the advent of railways and the latest ribbons in town. I’m not cool enough to be properly hedonistic – the statistician in me comes out in matters of personal finance where my general rule is – don’t spend, if you can help it. Don’t treat yourself, the reward of hard work is the work achieved. When I do give in, I feel guilty for wasting money, or I get bored for having to do the task of finding something to waste money on.
Maybe, that’s where the system goes wrong, though the attitude isn’t far from spiritual principles. I’ve made enough jokes here about people being statistical about meditation – charting how often, how much, what kind, quantity of tranquility achieved, so I’m not going to get into that. I joke, because I’m a sore loser, still not having devised some sort of method to relax this mind for just one damn second. And it would do me good if I could do it, for I am a very anxious person.
I enjoy the dopamine released at accomplishing something as much as the next person. I made ice-cream today, and though I don’t know if it’s edible or not, I felt good enough to exercise after quite a while. And that released endorphins to start writing this blog post. Achievement just sets you up for achieving even more and suddenly, ten languages or five pizzas don’t seem impossible anymore. Hard, but technically, not impossible.
But, I am a great incompleter of things. Just the other day I was thinking of picking up a hobby when I reprimanded myself – you have nearly a hundred unread physical books, you have instruments on which you play music that is not intended for human ears, you have subscriptions to video services and music services you wouldn’t exhaust in a lifetime and you have an adult colouring book which you found immensely dull, but which your frugal self requires you to finish in order to not waste it. You can’t start baking now, just so you could justify getting fat by acquiring new skills and bringing happiness to people’s lives.
That is why, I’m starting to get intimidated by ALL people. Everyone has skills, and you can get certifications for everything these days. That sounds envious, but the only person I mean to belittle by this is myself. A while back, I had one of the worst job interviews in the history of job interviews, if we exclude cases of abuse. I’m still puzzled by the whole situation, though I’m confident about not getting the job. I think the only way I could have distinguished myself is if I had more skills. I wish I could have done something like selling my own, handmade bead necklaces in the beaches of Goa for a year, the selling point being their ergonomicity. I don’t know. I don’t know what to do, in order to do it to completion, to achieve satisfaction, to radiate distinction. Does having knowledge about the packaged junk food industry count?
And knowledge is another thing. They never tell you knowledge leaves your body pretty much like food, except through reverse osmosis. I used to be a bit of a Beatles expert. I had read all of Sherlock Holmes. And seen every Al Pacino movie, even the bad ones. They don’t give certificates for that, but all three come handy more often than you think. Except, if you don’t keep at them like showering or brushing teeth, i.e. on a daily or at least regular basis, you forget. You could forget yourself after a while, so thank goodness I’m unashamedly self-absorbed. What’s the point in achieving skills if you’re just going to forget them?
It is the whole point of living, isn’t it? No one remembers the thousands of hours you spent lazing on the sofa or commuting on the train or looking out the window because you cannot bring yourself to do anything more demanding. But, people will remember you as a terrible piano player, because you have to spend time at a piano to begin with, if you want to be bad at it. If you don’t try at all, no one will associate you with the instrument, and you’ll just die with the secret knowledge of your amazing piano skills all to yourself.
Which is why I want ‘ballerina’ on my obituary.
What are you trying to accomplish lately? It could be something like waking up at 6 am everyday to planning a package holiday to the moon for the summer.