The more I fight it, the faster I sink.
My heart beats faster—but not in an excited, happy way. More like anxiety.
For months, I punched these keys. Almost every day. Bouncing between the past and the present and the totally inconsequential in an attempt to paint the picture of one average guy trying to make his way in the world after everything changed.
I thought maybe it could help me.
I thought maybe it could help someone like me.
And maybe it still can.
But something’s broken now. Something related to my writing and thinking and ability to produce is broken.
It doesn’t feel like cutting back. Like some necessary rest and relaxation.
It feels like sinking.
It feels like failing.
I want to be a writer. That’s who and what I want to be.
I am a father. I am a divorced guy. I am a friend and a son and a co-worker.
I know I am those things.
I don’t know that I’m a writer.
You’re not a writer if you don’t write. You’re not a writer if you can’t write. If I’m not practicing my craft… if I’m not growing and learning and discovering and experimenting… then I’m nothing.
I won’t have only become what I always feared most, personally—a failure at marriage.
I will have also become what I’ve always feared most professionally as well—a nobody. Just another punk in a cubicle.
Some of you are going to want to say nice things. You’re going to want to electronically pat me on the back and encourage me.
“Hey Matt! It’s totally okay! Take a break!”
“Hey Matt! It’s totally okay! You post way more than I do!”
“Hey Matt! It’s totally okay! I work in a cubicle, too!”
There needs to be more to life than punching the proverbial clock wearing business casual.
We spend more than half of our waking hours sitting around offices and doing laundry and washing dishes and mowing grass and dusting window sills and vacuuming carpet and running a bunch of errands all the time. Half of those errands are because we want to own all that shit we’re maintaining and going to work for so we can finance having it.
It sounds so insane to me when I put it that way. And I don’t take it back. That’s exactly what most of us are doing.
I think that can be a very good thing for a family raising children. Stability and routine are nice things. Safety and reliability should not be taken for granted.
But for a guy like me?
The 50-percent dad?
It feels like a wasted life.
And don’t tell me it’s okay. Don’t enable me. Don’t say it’s okay to short-change our future selves. Because it’s one of the worst things we do as people. Sacrifice our futures for the now.
If I am the sum of my choices, then I am a punk in a cubicle because of those choices.
If I want to be something more, I need to make better choices.
In Over My Head
Several months ago, I wrote a post about writing—about how I wanted to be more than just a guy writing marketing copy for someone else.
A guy who used to read these posts but doesn’t anymore told me I needed to check myself.
That most of the people reading here are writers. And all of us dream of being able to pay for our lives writing the things we want.
About how hard and impractical that is.
About how most of us fail to achieve that.
That it might be time for me to reevaluate my goals. Lower my expectations. Dream smaller, if you will.
And maybe he was right. Maybe we’re all a bunch of foolish dreamers. A bunch of nobodies destined to stay nobodies.
Maybe I’ve been in quicksand this entire time. And maybe now I’m finally in over my head.
Maybe I’m trying to force something that really isn’t there.
Maybe I should just be happy with what I have.
Isn’t that what we’re all really chasing anyway? Contentment? Happiness?
But I’m not content.
I’m not happy.
The only thing I can think of to write about is writing and how much of it I’m not doing.
I don’t know how to escape the quicksand.
Just like I didn’t know how to fix my marriage. The harder I tried, the worse I made it somehow.
I can’t do that here.
I can’t keep forcing posts just to be feeding that ‘Publish’ button.
Maybe I need to step away for a bit. To go analog. To write with a pen and paper. Making notes for the book project. Making notes about all of the things I want to do or learn about or think about or experience and eventually write about.
Maybe that reader and commenter was right about me. About us.
That we are who we are. And acceptance is the key to making peace with it.
That things are just the way they are and there’s nothing we can do about it.
Maybe that applies to everything.
That we shouldn’t try to improve our schools.
That we shouldn’t rethink the way we approach our relationships which fail half the time.
That we shouldn’t try to fight disease and crime and poverty.
That we should merely accept these as facts of life.
Maybe sometime I’ll think and feel just like that.
But not today.
“Are you feeling, the feeling that I’m feeling?
Dreams are like fish. You gots to keep on reeling.”
– Dreamin’, G. Love & Special Sauce