Sunday, June 28, 2015

Becky once again uses something mundane to think thoughts way more serious than the event calls for

Well, friends, I finally did it.  I bought a new computer.  It is smaller, faster, lighter, and shinier than that which I have become accustomed to.  One of the very first things I did with it was open up my browser and fall for a phishing scam.  This caused a major freakout that dominoed into some password changes, and, finally, setting up parental controls to guard myself from myself.

Following that, I plugged in the backup drive from my old computer and was guided through the process of starting a complete transfer of information and settings.  This got me thinking about all I was about to dump onto this pristine (aside from the phishing thing) machine, which I was viewing as a technological blank slate.  My old computer had every paper I'd written in college, every picture of that actor (I can't remember his name) that I saved for posts I never wrote, and of course it had all of those things I did write.  About him, about many other hims who never got the online treatment, and about all those things that make up a life.  Lots and lots of things.

It was an appealing thought to lighten the load, so instead of doing a blanket transfer, I decided to go through everything - every file, one at a time.  Does this stay or does this go?  I envisioned it being liberating and maybe even empowering.  It would give me a chance to organize, and I could see the full scope of what I've created over the years.


Sitting here, several days on and about 75% of the way through the process, I can say with honesty this has been one of most sobering activities I've ever inflicted upon myself.

Oh my God, the work that I have done.  The time, the energy...unfortunately, staring down the barrel of my creative life planted a nasty little meme in my head:  Why?

I've been sharply reminded this weekend of a passage I wrote for the Breakaway book, where I talk about the feelings that descended on me after the newness of running with the group had worn off, and I started to ruminate on what I'd put in and what I'd gotten in return:

I was tired. Tired of countless acquaintanceships but no real friendships. Tired of people sleeping together, deciding they didn’t like each other, and forcing the rest of us to choose sides. Tired of saying “no” and having to make up excuses because “I just don’t fucking want to do this anymore” was never accepted as a valid justification to not participate.

I was tired of trying to explain why I was tired, and most of all, I was tired of pouring so much effort into everything and not seeing anything come from it. I had an amazing social life, but no one to confide in. I had a bevy of flirtatious relationships, but no one to seriously date. I had thousands upon thousands of miles on my legs, but a 5K time that most rank amateurs could beat without trying.

I was tired. I was tired. I was tired.

In the years that followed the time period described, each of those points had their lows and their highs.  Right now, for instance, I'm high in the friendship category and don't currently relate to that specific frustration.  Everything else has cycled back, though, and while I knew that, for some reason it took sifting through seventeen different versions of a Jake Watch header for a theme we never used for me to acknowledge it.  Yesterday, I found a four-page document of detailed work grievances from 2009 that was as horrifying in its content (how did I get through that?) as in the stark sadness of me giving that much energy to complaining about work.  I've also, in the past few days, realized that I compulsively save screenshots to "prove" things, because I have some sort of latent fear of people not believing me.  Who did I think I was going to show those screenshots to?  What happened to me along the way to make me that concerned about being called a liar?  All of that effort in anticipation of fights that never came to pass.

This hasn't been an exercise in celebrating my creativity.  It's been a high-definition closeup of the frustration of being alive.

On the upside (because if there's anything more constant in my life than frustration, it's my manic persistence that "it'll all be okay"), I do feel lighter for all the files that have been shed already.  I don't need every draft of every book.  I don't need every test version of every graphic.  I sure as hell don't need poisonous documents about jobs that are so far in the past I barely remember working them.

But that feeling persists - Why?  I put so much work into things that went absolutely nowhere, and what do I have to show for any of it?  Into documents, into Photoshop files, into people, into running...  A wise friend of mine recently reminded me that sometimes there isn't a direct line of cause and effect, and all of us go through periods where it looks like the rest of the world is moving forward as we do nothing but run in place.  And...yes.

I fear, however, that I've done this all wrong.  I'm supposed to simply post, "YAY, NEW COMPUTER," and leave it at that.

So, er, that too.

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