Friday, May 31, 2013, posted by Q6 at 9:10 PM
Before I begin, let me preface with this:  I'm fine.  A good deal of my life is in great shape.  My wife is awesome.  My kids are fantastic.  My health is good (despite the fact I'm almost three months overdue for blood work to prove I can, in fact, control my cholesterol levels without the ingestion of synthetic medications or by reducing my diet to nothing but raw lettuce and shredded tree bark).  Mentally, though, I have my moments.

I have quite a few "big" things going on in my life right now:  my daughter attends a university which requires healthy tuition payments; my wife deals with some medical issues which, though by no means terminal, are certainly taking their toll on her; my son's career continues to move in a positive direction -- at a rate that exceeds my expectations -- but is still struggling to deal with financial things like taxes and car repair (and helping him with these is probably, in long run, cheaper than having him move back in).  All of these weigh on me from time to time.

And yet, lately, it seems to be the little things that weigh on me the most.  The other day I took a day off from work (which doesn't happen often, as I do not have one of those jobs where someone fills in, so taking a day off merely means that instead of five days to complete five days worth of work, I have four days to complete five days worth of work; it's like taking time off in dog years, or something) so that I could drive my daughter to the airport -- not the local one, but the one almost an hour away -- for a flight around noon.  It meant she and I could stop for a leisurely breakfast at a little place I know, and then afterward I would have a leisurely afternoon.

I was looking forward to the leisure of my afternoon.  I don't get the chance to do that nearly often enough.  Now I know why.

My brain doesn't do "neutral" well at all.

Upon returning from the airport I found I had something like four hours to myself (I had two early evening events for work).  I could have read.  I could have written.  I could have watched TV.  I could have napped.  So what did I do?

I cleaned up a pile of my stuff on the dining room table.  And in doing so, I discovered another small pile of my junk, so I took care of it, too.  Then I saw something that needed to go to the garage, which reminded me of two other things I had upstairs that needed to go as well, so I took care of that.  Each small project led to another small, meaningless project.  (Before you decide to jump ahead of me, let me make this clear:  this story does NOT end with my house being immaculate and organized in a two hour span of time.  I did a few things I wouldn't ordinarily have time for.  Thank God I stopped myself just as I noticed what a mess my home office desk is.)

The problem was this:  these tasks required almost zero brain activity.  I was doing work that chimpanzees might react to with, "Seriously, they're feeding us just for doing this simple stuff?"  And by doing tasks that required little to no thought, what did my brain default to?

"Why are you doing a job you don't enjoy?  How come there isn't a way to do what makes you happy AND still pay all the bills?  Why do you let your job get you so down?  How come other people don't seem to worry about work as much as you do?  What are you doing with your life, man?"  And so on.  

At the end of it, after all the little tasks were done and several -- but not all (God forbid I actually finish a project I start) -- piles of stuff were either dispensed with or moved to more storage-y locations, my brain had taken me to a place of... of resignation.  (I'm not suicidal, I don't plan on being suicidal, and I'm not really within ten city blocks of thinking such things.  Chill.)  There's a feeling of defeat that comes over me every now and again -- usually in conjunction with thoughts about my career -- that I just can't seem to shake.  And when my brain has nothing to do, for some reason, that's where it goes.

So not only do I find it difficult to quiet my brain down after a long day/week at work, I think I'm afraid to quiet it down... because I know exactly where it's going to go, and it ain't always pretty in there.

I'm looking for diversions.  Reading.  Trying (and usually failing) to find more time to write.  I thought about therapy, but then considered how less expensive alcoholism could be; only to have two bottles of cherry cider (I'm not lying:  it's called "Cherry Bomb") explode in my kitchen, sending sticky alcohol and tiny shards of glass throughout the kitchen.  Message received, Universe.

And, might I add, well played.