atheoryof.me

Casey S. Schroeder

Tag: creativity

Trolls Abound

It is not easy to let yourself off the leash.  Trolls abound, it seems the safer bet to mince your words beyond recognition.  But it does not do justice to your sentiment if you are so refined.  The process of hashing and rehashing takes something out of your expression which you don’t really know was there, once it is gone.  This is the rhythm of life – it shines through in words without conditions and is lost in words finely tuned.

That said, words finely tuned can be pithy and more beautiful than their unrefined counterparts, but something may still be lost in beauty.  It is this organic and genuine expression which is often missing in my own words, far too often, and I cannot blame it on anything but fear.

I do not say to you: “let yourself go”.  The task of being a writer is as much knowing what not to say as it is knowing what to say.  But it is fair that in our fear of saying too much, we either occlude the truth beyond recognition or say nothing at all, and that, for a writer, is a shame far beyond not expressing things beautifully.

The Source of Irony

Is it that deep within us, two modules collide, and what springs forth is something irreducible to either?

Is it that Angels and Demons have it out, and what gets through is either passible innocence or determined indiscretion?

Is it that we know what we want to say and intentionally sew it a cloak?

Is it that a hack is made and we say from suggestion what we never intended?

For the ignorant, there may be only one answer and always.

For the writer with a story to tell it is none of these, but rather a weave that touches many realities and still appears a single thread.

The Torture of Mistrusting Yourself II

I have spoken of the torture of my excursions into research and writing when all commitments are broken, as though by the call of God to take up my pen; that state that makes me so wretched, which I try so much to defend; that time when all things make sense, and yet there is but disarray around me – to which I am oblivious until I must try to excavate my kitchen from garbage and grime. There is more to it, unfortunately.

I fail myself also in how I make my plans. I typically overestimate my abilities to produce. If I am energetic when making the plans, I presume I will be energetic at all times covering the scope of the plan. If I lack energy, I presume I will have far more energy to do things at a later time. This can also be said of how I make commitments to others, but it is different as applied to myself in that, I know this of myself, and can use this as an excuse to abandon plans. I can say “I was simply being overzealous” and feel no guilt and suffer no other direct punishment, if the plans are for myself.

I may fail myself in my health. Particularly when under stress or sometimes in my moments of concentration. I can fail to eat well. I can fail to sleep well. I can fail to exercise at all. I may put on weight I cannot spare. I may drink more caffeine than I can handle. I may consider myself invincible and allow myself more beer than is conducive to the next day’s work. I may fail relating to people and treat them all as part of a scenery to which I’m oblivious. I may not bother to love or reach out or care for others only to find myself soon thereafter alone and lonely. I may disregard prayer or meditation. I may not think twice about the hole I am digging for myself.

Then again, I may be riding high; I may be at the top of my game; I may be reaching out to others; I may be happily making progress in the right direction; And I may for reasons unfathomable to me, be struck by a migraine which sidelines me for two days with blurred vision, sensitivity to light and sound, disoriented thinking, and a temporary imprisonment I can’t possibly deserve.

All you can do is endure, and first do no harm. But I also fail myself when the excursions are over and the migraines subside, because I too often forget where I left off. I do not remember what had been on the agenda or bother to pickup with the tasks I had missed. I simply start anew, as though the excursion and migraine had wiped away all of what I was working on and towards. It seems like such a simple thing to accept your former self as you. The same you which committed to doing things for themselves and others now. It is a part of integrity which I struggle with more than ethical or logical integrity.

These intervening moments like migraines and excursions form a schism between my past and current selves. I never considered myself “flaky” and I must say, I never want to have to. But I let myself down in another way, in how I compensate for this difficulty. Instead of making commitments and sticking to them, I am reluctant to make commitments. Being non-committal protects me from breaking more commitments than I would otherwise, but does not help me toward succeeding in the areas I wish to succeed. To do this, I can’t avoid commitments altogether.

To find success, I must work on both the deliberateness of my commitments and carrying out my commitments deliberately.

The Torture of Mistrusting Yourself

To determine the conditions in which I have failed myself, is in some ways more difficult than the task I have addressed in How I Have Failed Others. It sounds nice and philosophical to say the tasks are simply the same, but I don’t believe they are, primarily because the commitments I make to myself rely on me to an extent which other commitments do not.

As with others, I fail myself, principally, in failing to keep to the plans which I make for myself. I do this largely because I get over-committed, things come up, and I make honest-though-mistaken use of my time. These are standard and apply to commitments to others as well. I also fail myself in the other two ways which I mention in the previous post. I fail myself in the games I play with myself and I fail myself by flights of fancy, temporarily abandoning all structure. These two, however, are distinctly different when the commitments are only to myself.

Generally my problem is not that of playing tit-for-tat with myself, and therewith breaking commitments as retribution. My problem is, instead, that of *not* playing tit-for-tat with myself. When I do let my former self down, there are rarely any immediate consequences – any consequences within my window of association – which train me to fulfill my commitments to myself. There need to be legitimate punishments.

In fact, the moments of “flight” I have spoken of are quite the opposite. In those moments I am taken by an idea in need of investigation or something in need of writing, I break commitments to seek a sort of near term fulfillment, which rewards me for breaking my commitments to myself. I do not simply stay at home to drink beer. Rather I do something far more satisfying, which I can also justify as of much deeper and greater significance than mundane commitments – and a deeper and greater significance to me. Because they are of deeper and greater significance to me and I am breaking commitments to me, I do not have that guilt of being mistaken or selfish. But if those moments come at the wrong time – and I cannot well time them – they promise me far greater trouble than success.

What it seems I need is likely what many people need, but is hard to achieve: good planning/resource allocation and an appropriate system of rewards and punishments for breaking commitments. In this, a valid system of rewards and punishments is crucial. But for me it is always undermined by chasing nobility, those matters of greater and deeper significance.

The torture of mistrusting yourself – using Nietzsche’s phrase – would seem punishment enough, but chasing nobility provides a near-term fulfillment, which rewards commitment breaking, and mistrust alone is not enough to offset it. And still, I struggle at this very moment to say I should not chase those moments. When I look at those things I have accomplished by chasing ideas whole heartedly in 10 day intervals – I have to say they are some of the things I am most proud of.

It is a kind of torture indeed.

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