Less Depressed, Still Annoyed

So I managed to knock two major items off the mile-long to-do list, and it’s an accomplishment in no small part because (1) these were the two things that I most dreaded doing, and (2) they were the most pressing things on the list. (1) + (2) = major guilt paralysis; my inability (or perhaps lack of desire, or flat-out refusal) to complete these two tasks prevented me from moving on to anything else on the list, because I knew that what I really ought to be working on were these two things, and if I wasn’t doing that…

But: paralysis overcome. Mood improving, at least slightly. I still find myself pretty cheesed-off, however, at the fact that only productivity can make me feel any better. I mean, for god’s sake, I’m Catholic; how did I get saddled with such a heaping helping of the Protestant work ethic?

And this brings me back to a chicken-or-egg conversation that my pal Tim and I had this weekend: are people with quality x (in this case, an over-developed work ethic and a sense of self much too bound up in accomplishment) drawn to the profession, or is that quality something that is produced in them by the profession? I suspect it’s a little of both: something in my goal-oriented nature drew me into grad school, and then that part of me got fed by the culture I found there. The end result is a severely stunted ability to be happy unless I feel like I’m accomplishing something.

All this is part of my annual (or perhaps semi-annual; I’d have to check the archives to be sure, and frankly, I don’t really want to know how frequently this has come up) grousing about how tired I am of being unable to enjoy my life apart from my work. This is something I clearly need to work on, though, because while work can sustain me when it’s going well, I need another form of sustenance during the periods when it’s just not, when I just feel like chucking it all and running off to Tahiti…

4 responses to “Less Depressed, Still Annoyed”

  1. Maybe, just maybe, there is some pleasure in the jeremiad?

    Let’s split hairs: concern about time management; guilt about the items on the ToDo list; guilt about the guilt about the items on the ToDo list; feeling sad or blue; guilt about feeling sad or blue.

    If one begins by indulging in the blues … a nice hot bath with soothing tissane for a set period of time ….

    If one continues with applying time to task without worrying about completion of task…

    … does the guilt, of whatever brand, dissipate?

    Yes… or so I suspect. The nature of guilt is to fixate on the finish. The nature of enjoyment is to live for the process. Peace but a breath away.

    Someone in my recent blog reading indicated that The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh was one of their inspirations to remember to exhale.

  2. How about running off to Hawaii?

  3. Hey – but I thought you were feeling better because you did something that you’d told yourself that you wanted to do and that had been anxiety provoking. That’s good, right?

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