I have a problem: I can’t stop working.
It’s not like I’m logging 80 hours a week. I know plenty of guys putting in more hours at the office than me. I’m not constantly scrambling around trying to make money or adding more jobs to my resume. Even the lowest-level entrepreneur puts me to shame on my best day. I sometimes feel like the hardest working slacker in the world, to be honest.
My labors have piled up in the form of everyday, ordinary things. This dawned on me recently as I went on a bicycle ride on the side roads near my house. I hadn’t ridden in quite a while, so instead of taking the longer route I had worked up to near the end of last summer, I decided to ride a shorter route to ease back into things. Midway through the ride, I found myself calculating in my head how long it might take me to work my way back up to the distance I was riding before and how fast to head into the next hill to make it up the next incline and how quickly I needed to get home and…
And then it hit me: This wasn’t any fun. And this is how I handle everything. I’m not sure how I came to be this way. Maybe it’s because I’ve always lacked confidence in myself and feel like I need to prove myself all the time. Maybe it’s because I’m a perfectionist who holds himself to a ridiculously high standard. Maybe I’m just nuts.
Whatever the cause, I find myself sitting here at this keyboard typing words I eagerly hope someone will see and read and be impressed with. While writing is something I’ve always (perhaps incorrectly) considered myself to be good at, it is rapidly falling into the work abyss as time goes on. Whatever else I lacked in, I always knew I had skill as a writer, so I cling to it desperately, hoping it can lift me out of whatever situation I’m in. With that kind of emphasis, a joyous activity becomes an albatross.
I would say I’ve lost my way somewhere, but I’m not sure I ever understood work vs. rest anyway. There always seems to be some phantom I’m working against. If I play a game with my kids, I try to use every aspect of it as a teaching moment instead of, you know, just playing the game. If I read a book, I slide it mentally onto the shelf with all the other books I’ve read. I watch television shows for merit, not entertainment. If I pick up my guitar, I’m out to write the best song ever (which I still have not done, by the way). Heck, even vacations are a challenge, since I feel like I must achieve relaxation at any cost.
This type of mentality can push some people to the heights of success. In my case, it’s made me struggle to figure out how to function and still maintain my sanity. I once heard Marvel Comics guru Stan Lee say he had never considered retirement because he didn’t feel like he’d ever had a job; the work was so natural that it didn’t feel like work at all. So what are you supposed to when that gets flipped on its head and everything natural feels like clocking in at the office every day?
I’m not exactly sure why I’m writing this. I would like to think I’m achieving some sort of progress by acknowledging all this, but I’m pretty sure I’m really doing it because I haven’t posted anything in several days and feel like I’m slacking. Keeping up a good blog is a lot of work, you know…