relaxaphobia

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We all have a friend like this… that guy that wears his Bluetooth headset EVERYWHERE. Chances are, he works at a call center, or something low pressure  like that.  It’s not like he’s a high profile stock trader that needs to be able to communicate at the drop of a hat anytime, any place…. he just seems to like feeling like he’s that important.  You know the type.

There is nothing quite like feeling important.   Just when I think I’ve got all of my existential crisis ducks in a row, I read something on the Internet and, BAM! I find out that I too, am just as lame as the Bluetooth dude.

I am a busy-a-holic. If my schedule is not crammed tight with actual work, I will find a way to over complicate the work that I do have, so that I remain super “busy”.  Really, it’s super unproductive, but it feels busy at the moment.

WTF is up with this, you ask?

New York Times writer  Tim Kreider spoke the terrible truth to me when he said:

“Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.”

(you can read the whole article here: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-trap/ )

Well, fuck’n-a.  I just got called out.

I’m on the fence about the idea of God having a specific plan for me, and I am pretty committed to that position until I meet God in person to talk about it. I believe as the secular humanists do, that there is virtue in assigning your life it’s own purpose. I believe in the meaning of life is a DIY project. I’m balls deep in my DIY meaning of life, but sometimes I look around and think, “Shit. Really?  Am I really doing this?  REALLY?  I’m the only one digging this trench. Does it really even matter?  Is it ever going to serve an important purpose?

…and so I just fuck up my productivity so that I’m always a tad behind on everything and I “don’t have time” to think too hard about that stuff.

I’m relaxaphobic. You may think I spend a lot of time partying or hanging out or playing, or whatever… but 99% of the time I’m a man on a mission.  That night at the club has an ulterior motive. Those beers I’m pounding with the boys are being done in the name of research of some kind.  I’m serious.

Even when I was in Portland on a vacation of sorts, between events, I found myself pacing a lot.  “I need to be doing something”.  I had a terribly hard time just sitting and doing NOTHING.  Many years ago I was packing to go on vacation with Mireesa and her family (my former wife).  I was packing up some scholarly reading to do for school. Thick stuff like “Cumulative Record: A Selection of Papers” by B.F. Skinner. Technical reading on the subject of operant conditioning.  That’s what I planned to read on the beach. Yeah, I know how to party.  Mireesa looked at me and said “Are you serious?  You are NOT going to read that on vacation.  Go to the book store and get some guy magazines. Go get Maxim and some stuff like that. I’m serious.”  I was being ordered by my wife to get some soft core porn to take on vacation.  I reluctantly obliged.

If Ferris Beuller were Jesus, he would say to me, “you draw near me with your lips, but your heart is far from Me”

Am I so afraid of my own insignificance?  I think there’s a fairly good chance of this.   I even misinterpreted the sacred words of St. Ferris Beuller, patron saint of leisure, when he said,

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

But then I get confused, because I find sentiments like the following to be very compelling:

“Each person is only given so many evenings and each wasted evening is a gross violation against the natural course of your only life”  – Charles Bukowski

When it comes to life, I feel like a kid in a candy store. There are so many things I want to do, so many things I want to experience, I fear that I won’t have enough time to really experience it all. I love the idea of living forever. Life is fun. But on some level, I’m having a hard time accepting that it’s finite.  What drives my habit of being busy?  Fear or love?

Kreider continues ratting out my “busy complex”:

“Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.”

Unlike other inspirational – self help – motivational – blah blah blah bloggers, I do not come to you with answers.   I’m bludgeoning my brain with these questions, and for some reason (which I question the wisdom of every day), I write this shit down and click “publish”.  I don’t believe in peddling answers. That’s called religion, and I let go of that a few years ago.  Anyway, I guess that’s all I have to say for now. I really just wanted to share that awesome Times article with you. It really got me thinking about the possibility that I’m running from feelings of my own cosmic insignificance.

Maybe you are too.

That’s a cheery thought, huh?

 

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Paul Duane

Paul Duane is a photographer, writer, and talk show host based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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