Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Today's Catch

If the work is hard, that means I shouldn't do it.

If I'm agitated, I can't work. I better go get lunch.

I should be better at this. I shouldn't have to work at it.

If I'm going to fail anyway, better to fail spectacularly, by showing my contempt for the whole enterprise. Then I can pretend I could have done it if I had wanted to.

I'm someone who will never do the work anyone else wants him to.

I'm someone who has always hated programming.

If I really work I will never be able to blog again. I won't want to blog and I'll be too boring to blog anyway.

What, I got halfway to a Ph.D. at Yale and I can't even do this simple Perl programming? (& then the automatic loop that always runs whenever Yale comes into my mind -- i.e. I always fail when push comes to shove, and always because my will evaporates. See? Like at Yale.)

Perl is too simple. It's beneath my dignity.

Perl is too hard. I'll never learn it.

-- Just some of the weirdly false thoughts I've captured on the wing, today. I've been trying to identify the habitual ones, and talk back to them, a la cognitive therapy. It is remarkable how entrenched and influential some of them are. Remarkable how much shame at my academic past I carry with me -- I would have said I didn't carry much, if you'd asked me yesterday. I'm ashamed of the time I wasted getting a graduate degree in English that I'd never use. I'm ashamed that I never finished my dissertation. I'm ashamed of having second BA in Computer Science -- I should have gotten a masters. I also should have done it quicker. I also should have done it at a more distinguished school. I also shouldn't have done it at all. (& I also shouldn't care whether the school's distinguished.) How on earth do I carry all this around with me?

But the most useful thought to have caught on the wing was "if I'm agitated, I can't work." And resonating behind it, a vague fear that something bad will happen, if I work even though I'm agitated. when I caught that, and answered it, I actually turned around, walked back to my computer, and went back to work. These are the sort of thoughts that really sabotage me, I think. And these are hardest to catch -- the nimblest and best-camouflaged.

Answering these thoughts is not exactly rocket science. They're infantile, mostly. Fatuous. My life is being run by thoughts that would do no credit to a six-year-old.

So anyway -- I got a lot done today. Stay tuned.

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