The Doldrums

I was about to open by asking whether there was a physical equivalent to depression, because that’s what I think I’ve got. And of course there is: it’s called depression. Duh.

I don’t want to overstate my current situation; things are just not all that bad. I’m enjoying being still, enjoying being lazy. I’m just monumentally unmotivated to do any of the dozens of tasks on my to-do list. I recognize that if I don’t do them, I’m going to be setting myself up for a period of total panic before the semester begins. Even so, I just can’t be bothered. I need to write memos. I need to write reports. I need to write proposals. I need to read things for my fall classes. I need to finish compiling statistics. But I just plain don’t want to.

There are other things I want to do — want to continue tinkering with new hardware and software; want to begin sketching out the new project in earnest; want to keep learning the things I’ve begun learning this summer — but the need to deal with the above administrative stuff is interfering. It’s impossible to think clearly about the new project, for instance, when I know that I’ve got those memos that need to get written.

So what have I been doing? As I mentioned last night, some chunk of the weekend was spent in getting caught up on Six Feet Under. I missed an episode while I was in Rome, and another in a fit of exhaustion after getting back. Through the miracle of the internets, I was able to see them both yesterday, and then last night’s episode. And, in case you haven’t seen it yet, I’ll say nothing particular — except that, nine episodes into what has otherwise been a pretty whiny, uninspired season, they’ve finally gotten my attention. And how.

And aside from that, I spent much of the weekend rereading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I picked up Half-Blood Prince in the Houston airport on my way back into the country, but when I started it, I realized that I hadn’t a clue where we’d left off. So some backtracking, and now I’m ready to move forward again.

There’s a theme there, I think: the need to catch up before moving on. There are two things in it, though, that leave me feeling like a lazy, ineffectual slug, a feeling that does little to help motivate me to get more done. The first, of course, is that both HP and SFU are one-hundred percent, entirely about entertainment. Despite the fact that each, to varying extents, falls within the boundaries of my field, I know full well that I’ll never do anything productive with either of them. So I can’t even rationalize all this lying around as being even vaguely work-related. (And that need — to justify doing something for fun — annoys me quite intensely, so much so that the deep irritation I’ve been feeling toward the profession and its policing strategies completely — if, gods willing, temporarily — overcomes my desire to succeed in it.)

And second, the mere fact of such backtracking leaves me feeling like I’m running in place, stuck on my little wheel, huffing and puffing and getting nowhere. There’s something a little too revealingly metaphoric about it: having finished the book, having gotten tenure, having run the marathon, having accomplished what goals I’ve had before me, I’m still pounding on, but aimlessly, directionlessly. Until something, somewhere, simply refuses to go forward any more.

3 thoughts on “The Doldrums

  1. found this link surfing…

    and i wanted to say that on the feeling of having to catch up before moving forward, it’s cosmic. totally. mercury’s retrograde – everyone i talk to is full of cell phones not working, ideas that sound FANTASTIC fizzling out, meetings that almost happen but not quite.

    if you’re interested at all – check this out: an article by Robert Ohotto

    “during a Mercury Retrograde cycle. It’s like the 6th Chakra gets its hard drive reformatted and upgraded (with new Leo software installed this Retrograde). During the Retrograde, we are asked to retreat within and reevaluate what serves us in our life with regards to this Mercurial function of consciousness and what needs to be upgraded, ref

  2. first, everything i’m about to say should be taken with a a big-ass grain of salt because i’m a fellow sufferer, but here goes…

    HP and SFU will, of course, pay dividends, just not direct professional dividends that will be immediately apparent in, say, a new publication. will having read/viewed/meditated on these texts inform your teaching? hell yeah!

    also, you’ve more than earned a few lazy days. as you point out, you’ve run a freakin’ marathon, written a book, and earned tenure. enjoy the diversions.

  3. if you need a little pick me up, St. Johns Wort is supposed to work as a mood enhancer. It naturally raises levels of seretonin in the brain. It may not have much effect on serious depression, and for some people it doesnt work at all. I tried it for most of the summer, to little effect. Im on lexapro now. *sigh*.

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