It was a weekend at home catching up on things that needed doing (although, alas, not so much on things I wanted to do). It wasn’t really planned that way; it was sort of imposed on me by the fact that sunbelt cities pretty much stop functioning when confronted with eight inches of snow. It was probably a good thing, although it would have been nice to have gotten out for a little while. But there wasn’t really anyplace to go.
Did you ever wake up one morning and realize your life really sort of lacked the intensity it once had? That you just don’t get all that excited about things anymore? That’s your life is somehow all low end and mid-range with very little of the high end that once used to be there? Like you’ve blown out your tweeter (which sounds kind of dirty, but isn’t really meant to)?
I think I’m sort of there right now, and I can’t figure out the cause nor the cure.
It’s really not a sudden revelation. In fact, I’ve been seeing the symptoms developing for quite some time. I was even a little worried that graduation was going to make it much harder to ignore; it made it much easier when I could blame the fact that I no longer seemed to be doing much of anything on school pressures.
It’s also convenient to lay the blame on the adjustment to my new job. Truth be told, though, my job is not really so exhausting that I have to come home and turn into bean dip just to recover every night. In fact, my current job is much less exhausting than most I’ve had. It’s a pretty consistent eight-hour day, and while it requires a certain intellectual engagement, it’s not as if it’s all that physically taxing. It’s definitely not “high stress”.
The problem is not that I’m too tired to do things. The problem is that I no longer know exactly what it is that I enjoy doing. If you’d asked me five or ten years ago how I liked to spend my free time, I’d have offered some very concrete answers: travel, urban exploration and photography, reading, and working on my sites. And in theory, that’s still how I’d answer, or more precisely, that’s what I’d say I wanted to do with my free time. But it’s not what I really do with it anymore. In fact, I don’t do much of anything of consequence with it anymore.
I was very excited when we moved back east (has it really been almost five years?) because it offered so many nearby and interesting road trip destinations. For the past few years, while Mark has been working his ass off in San Francisco, I haven’t felt right doing a lot of heavy traveling. It was especially bad that first year in Charlotte, when I was more or less unemployed. Being wonderful as he is, he encouraged me to travel while I had the time, but I felt rotten about it (and sometimes a bit financially irresponsible as well). Since last year, I’ve also been driving to Pittsburgh at least once a month, which makes road trips on the other weekends less attractive. My long daily commute doesn’t help, either. Or is that just an excuse? Unfortunately, lack of travel also impedes hobby number two, because there’s really not much “urban”to explore around here–especially “urban” that I haven’t seen and photographed over and over again.
As far as reading, I still do a lot of it, but it’s mostly small chunks and segments online. I find it harder and harder to muster the attention span to read actual books. Or maybe I’m having trouble finding books that excite me, just as I’m having trouble finding much of anything else that excites me these days. I think the attention span is a factor in what is (or isn’t) going on with the sites as well. There are things I’ve been planning to do with Groceteria for two years now; I’d blamed the delays on school, but what’s stopping me now? Jeez, I can’t even manage a simple daily update on this site anymore; there never seems to be anything going on that I feel strongly enough to write even a paragraph about.
At some point, I think I have to realize that this is not about my being tired or stressed or worried about finances and to recognize that there might be something else going on. I recognize that the fact that I’m not entirely happy with where my own life is at is affecting my work and, more importantly, my relationships with other people. Or at least the relationships I still have (but that’s a whole other story). Am I depressed, or just plain lazy, or do I just need some new perspective? Either way, something needs to happen. I wish I knew what it was.