“We don’t just put off our lives today; we put them off till our deathbed.”
– Steven Pressfield, “The War of Art”
I had a basic plan in mind for re-reading the 12 most impactful books of my life over the next year. It is a simple plan, divide each book into 30 parts and finish one a month. For my first book, “The War of Art”, that means reading five pages per day. Not only is this a simple feat but it allows for some adjustments if I miss a day or something.
Well, I didn’t miss today but after three pages I was ready to reflect, so I guess I’m two pages behind (or really, seven pages because I didn’t read yesterday). I think I’m ready to reflect because these three short pages punched me in the gut. They reminded me of my past and present, the behaviors I’ve exhibited that gave in to Resistance.
The first one, procrastination, is pretty damn universal (probably). As Pressfield says, procrastination is easy to rationalize because we aren’t abandoning our passions, potential, work, creation, we are just neglecting them for today. I’m totally going to start eating healthy… tomorrow. But tomorrow becomes today and we say the same thing. It is like that cliche sign littered throughout divebars across the US (world?), “Free beer tomorrow”. It is like there is a permanent sign posted in my mind that says “We will do our work tomorrow” or “Tomorrow we will start to write/read/exercise/volunteer”. Tomorrow never comes and we get weaker and weaker.
There is hope, though, “This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny…. this second, we can sit down and do our work.”
The second one, sex, hits really close to home. Not so much now, but when I was dealing with the worst of my mental illness I used sex to feel alive. It was one of the few times for about six years that I felt like I was valued, that I felt a human connection, that the world had some color to it. I don’t regret the sex, it was some of the best of my life and I am still friends with several of my partners, but I do wish I had a healthier approach to mental health.
In this case, my “work”, wasn’t an artistic creation but the process of getting well. Instead of seeking help I would seek sex, which was strangely fairly easy to come by. In college and DC there were lots of people who weren’t interested in a relationship but still wanted to share some orgasms. It was a great, cheap way to connect, relieve stress, and kill some time. It was a drug, just like shopping, beer, video games, and food.
Even today, much of my life is influenced by the drive for sex, especially “new” sex. I am torn on whether this drive for variety is something I should accept or fight. I don’t think drugs are necessarily bad, in fact I think they can be a great good, but we should recognize the risk that exists.
Sidebar: One of my biggest issues with many people in marijuana culture is that they act like weed is either harmless or a panacea. It isn’t. It should totally be legal for adults to use, but lets not pretend that inhaling burning plant material or introducing intoxicating substances into your body is 100% healthy, harmless, or guaranteed to heal. There are certainly riskier drugs and there are likely health benefits to using marijuana, but it isn’t some magic herb that doesn’t have risks or potentially negative effects.
Okay, back to me…
I still long for sexual variety. My partner knew this about me when we went into our relationship and one of the reasons that we work well together is because she isn’t selfish, jealous, and is open to new experiences. I wouldn’t be happy with someone who held the idea that my body belonged to her or that there is something good about wanting to reduce the amount of pleasure your partner has. That just wouldn’t work for me, but it doesn’t have to. I have friends that are in very strictly monogamous relationships that are very happy, and I’m super thrilled for them. There is no single-way to have a relationship, what matters is honesty and compatibility.
Hmm, went off topic there. Anyway, should I fight this drive for variety? I don’t think so. For one, the cost of fighting it is too high. Second, it isn’t causing a big problem. Resistance doesn’t use sex as a tool at this point in my life (well, except for the occasional procrastibation, but that only delays things for about 180 seconds). But it is something I should keep an eye on, like all things.
Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions: pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”