The title of this blog post reads a little like a short story. All my blog posts are stories, in a sense. They’re personal, and true as far as I can tell.
This post is a little complicated, because it’s related to introspection. It’s a tricky thing to try and look inside yourself, to feel like you’re able to truly, objectively evaluate your own actions.
Many of us want to think we’re good people. It makes it easier for us to live with ourselves. Someone once told me to be good, the most important thing is to keep trying. To not give up and decide we can’t be bothered when things get to hard, when it’s easier to do the wrong thing.
It takes courage to do the right thing when it might not be the right thing for us. I’ve managed it sometimes, but it’s often left me wondering why I did. There are times I could have improved my own life immensely if I’d lied, or if I’d just walked away. I’d have more money, for starters. Not the greatest determinant of happiness, but it helps to a certain degree.
Right now, however, I’m feeling the old, slow, strain of stress and fatigue. I’m tired of working hard. I’m tired of pushing myself again and again. I spend a huge amount of time on what I call ‘self-improvement’. Things like exercise, music practice, writing, reading and research. I do my best to make myself a better person.
I mentioned last week that I finished my novel. I need something else to write, but try as I might I have no motivation. Not just for the novel, or for writing, but for many of the things in my life. It’s strange that some days I can feel great. I can be driving home, singing and dancing. The next day I struggle to get out of bed, and work through my daily to-do list out of sheer stubbornness.
There’s something to be said for doing good things for the wrong reasons – for spite, or stubbornness, or pride, which are all good examples. It gets the job done all the same. Some days I keep going only because I don’t want to give up and admit failure. I’ve a certain degree of pride in my accomplishments. Not one that I take a lot of joy from, perhaps, but one that keeps me from feeling worse.
Days like this I wonder what the point of writing is, but it would be better to say that I wonder what the point of anything is. What is the good life? I often take solace in philosophy, in stoicism, in the works of Epictetus, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius.
I’m capable of understanding how to get to where I need to go. I know what I need to do. But pushing myself over the line seems impossible. I try to find writing competitions to enter, but mentally exclude myself before I start.
It’s the most frustrating emotional state I’ve ever experienced, in many ways more so than grief or other dreadful melancholies I’ve suffered. It’s because every ounce of my rational mind tells me that I’m doing the right thing, that I’m actively pursuing the good life, but I still take no joy in it just now. I work and achieve because I must, not because it enhances my life.
But this will pass, as all things do. The thing that gives me the most comfort is the knowledge that I have been very happy many times in my life. If the most certain thing in life is change, then I know it’s not long until I’m happy with my lot again. I’ve got many things in life to be grateful for.