Tuesday, July 10, 2018

About That Crisis

My last post about "how do I serve?" elicited some responses that made me stop and reconsider: several people said, in essence, "what makes you think you aren't serving right now?"

I'm doing four things these days: 

1) Massage
2) Working at the Library Foundation (my day job)
3) Writing my blogs (this and my not-dead-yet massage blog)
4) The Dale Health Initiative (diet and exercise)

So... why do none of them count as useful? 

The Dale Health Initiative, which has been the spotlight act lately, has been wildly successful. And that is basically the problem: it's a success; I've won; so now it's over. I have a hard time with success. When I meet a goal my standard response -- this drives Martha crazy -- is to fall into a phase of angsty self-doubt. Somehow my success is not real: I've just put one over on people. It's not as perfect as it should be. It's not where I really should have put my energy. Something's wrong with it: something's wrong with me. The fact that I've transformed my diet, lost 65 pounds, shrunk my waist by fifteen inches, built lots of new muscle and strength, attained mobility and flexibility and endurance that I never had in my youth -- none of that matters, because I still consume too much sodium. (Yes. Welcome to the Dale mind.) 

It's largely a natural response to hedonic adaptation: "if this is such a great success, then why am I not wildly happier than I was before?" --Well, because that's not how day-to-day emotional happiness works. It's the increase in well-being, it's the achievement in excess of expectation, that feels good. It has to work that way or it would fail in its main motivational function. When my circumstances improve, in a short time they simply become the new normal. And just maintaining the gains (or losses, I should say?) is a lot of work. The rewards are mostly in, but a lot of the costs remain.

And of course, the Health Initiative is self-absorbed and (the way I do it) isolated. Most of my meals I make just for myself. Exercise happens in the Robinson Crusoe island of the Wreck Room: there's no "going to the gym." So there's not much in the way of doing anyone else any good, unless its reflection via the blog is helping anyone.

But -- more important -- I've managed to discount everything else I do as basically having run its course. I've cast it to myself that I'm coasting to the close, and just waiting for all my  enterprises to die. And that's where my perceptions are most seriously out of whack. It's just not true, not true of any of them. I am at the moment a bit stymied and frustrated in all of them, but it's not a crisis, and there are clear paths forward for all of them, if I just slow down, take them one by one, and address the difficulties. These things are doable. None of them has dead-ended. I just haven't had much attention to give them, so of course they've been coasting.


Sabine said...

I know and yet I don't, really, what you mean.

I've had my own shares of losing direction, the one I took for granted. But you have read some of my stuff and you know. You could call it a complete u-turn in my case.

Still, in a way, does it not just boil down to this that in the morning when you wake up, you try to keep a wide-open heart and mind so that at the end of the day, before going to sleep, you can reflect. On whatever. Without pressure.

Also, the Dale Health Initiative has been/is very inspiring.

Dale said...

Thanks Sabine! It may be as simple as that. I do have a feeling of having really lost my way. (Which doesn't mean that I have, or that a way really exists to be found. All it means is that I have the feeling.)