Why Do We Fall Down, Master Wayne?
Not a song today, but a clip!
A most palpable clip!
I’ve been up since four o’clock this morning.
I had a full day of work and came home exhausted. I crawled into bed, telling myself that writing could wait until tomorrow. Then I looked over at the clock and realized I technically still had two hours until today was tomorrow and that I had better get moving because of my calendar.
Last week, I told my therapist about my calendar.
I’ve told you about it, but it needs more explanation.
My calendar is a World Builders charity calendar that I had never actually used before July. July is when I came to terms with the fact that I had done something incredibly, almost inconceivably stupid, and that I had better pick myself up and get moving.
The Funk I was in wasn’t as bad as last time, although more disheartening because I thought I had moved myself beyond those kinds of mistakes.
During the Funk, I didn’t even realize I was depressed. I just sat around eating Ben and Jerry’s, staring at the wall, while my three cats crawled over me wondering why my eyes kept watering. And worst of all, I started to get that feeling like I’d prefer not to feel good ever again.
That’s the true terrible feeling I think most people feel when they’re not trying to better their lives.
During my Funk, while I kept having evil shitty thoughts about myself and others, I overheard what is probably an apocryphal account about Jerry Seinfeld.
When Jerry Seinfeld first began his career as a comedian he forced himself to get into the habit of writing jokes. To do this, he got a calendar and marked every day he wrote jokes with a red “X.” It got to be that he couldn’t stand the idea of not putting a red “X” on that calendar so he wrote jokes every day.
I didn’t and don’t know if that’s true. I don’ really care. It doesn’t really matter.
I shifted through the clutter of my house, which I had not cleaned in several weeks, found my World Builders calendar (which is the only calendar I’ve ever owned so my options were limited) and decided I needed to start doing three things.
1. Clean My House
I got three pens with three different colors of ink and set myself incredibly modest goals. Modest because I knew not meeting a goal would just devastate me. When I first sat down I was pissed at myself for losing so much progress on the exercise front. When I had been doing P90X twice a day I had felt invincible. Now I felt like I had asthma again. And I beat my asthma once already, so that pissed me off too.
So for fifteen minutes a day, I forced myself to exercise. And then thirty minutes. And then an hour. If I did that, I gave myself a black “X.”
I’ve never been a particularly tidy person, but if you force yourself to clean your house even if it already seems clean to you for fifteen minutes a day you eventually start to look like a tidy person. If I did that, I gave myself a blue “X.”
I had not been writing, not really, since my psychotic meltdown. I’m still trying to examine why that was, but I wasn’t. Not in any actual serious manner. So I decided I’d do a hundred words. When I was in fifth grade Mr. Harless used to make us write a hundred words on a subject and we couldn’t stop until we were finished.
It felt like wringing water from a dry cloth.
But you can still wring one hundred words from a dry cloth. So I did, and gradually increased it. As of right now, I do one thousand words a day on days I work, and two thousand on days I don’t. With my current schedule that puts my output at 10k words a week.
I explained all of this to my therapist.
And I explained to her about the speed reading, the ambidexterity, the Morse Code, the braille, the sign language alphabet and the flag semaphore. I didn’t talk about the Bushido or the piano or the Chinese mostly because I only had so much time.
Then she asked me a question that basically amounted to:
“Do you have to do all of that just so you can feel like your life matters?”
And that was a very good question.
I forced myself to break my schedule on Wednesday and Thursday. I didn’t exercise at all, or clean and mostly spent the entire day playing a game called “Infinity Blade” on my iPad. Even if I did do those things, I would not give myself a mark on the calendar. So I didn’t do them.
For those two days, I felt like a failure and a loser and someone destined to die alone.
Even though I felt that way, I did write the second day. I did my same two thousand words that I do every Thursday because I wanted to so badly I couldn’t just not do it.
I didn’t give myself any X for that day as rules are rules, but it was good to know it was in there. I’m back to my schedule now. I’ve got to be productive, after all, but I’m going to occasionally make myself stop at random intervals so I don’t start using it as a metric for my entire value as a human being.
This week, for my “therapy homework” I am supposed to go somewhere and “be myself” which I don’t know that I have ever done.
I’ll make sure to let you know how that goes.
Till then, this is Andy, and this blog is one thousand words.