Warning: Post sans point ahead.
I’ve been very aware of certain patterns, lately. When I started writing about them, I hoped I’d have some awesome realization about what it all means, but alas, I have many questions and no real answers. Yet.
But I figured why not share anyway?
Ready? Commence brain dump!
Pattern #1 – Doing things to the extreme
I’ve been trying to get outside more lately, to try to take real breaks instead of the half-assed periods-of-rest that aren’t really restful at all.
Being at the computer during “break time” isn’t restful. I wish it were, because oh the convenience, but it isn’t.
So I’ve been trying to go hiking a few times a week. There’s a beautiful park with trails about 10 minutes from our house.
But what I’ve noticed is that when I’m on the mountain (okay, mountain might be a bit generous, but it’s definitely bigger and steeper than a hill) is that I’m not really enjoying it. Well, I am but I’m not.
I find myself thinking the following:
How far can I get this time?
How fast can I go this time?
Can I make it all the way up to the top?
It’s already been 25 minutes…should I head back now or try to get a little closer to the top?
Uh oh, there’s someone coming up behind me. I don’t want to have to get out of their way yet, so I’d better speed up.
What this all adds up to is that even though I’m doing good things for myself by getting away from the computer, and getting some solitude, I’m not necessarily doing these things in a healthy way.
Is it really beneficial if I’m trying to power up the mountain and See What I Can Accomplish?
Pattern #2 – All activity must produce something
I guess the noticings while hiking reminded me of other attempts at hobbies.
Back before I knew I wanted to be a coach, I started making beaded jewelry.
But somehow that wasn’t challenging enough, so I had to start making the glass beads, themselves.
I got quite good at it, and really enjoyed it, but it was also about continuing to push myself and get better.
There was always a next step, and my next step was going to be buying my own equipment and setting up a studio so that I could start selling my work.
Then for reasons I won’t go into here, I had to quit making the beads. I was devastated, and quit making jewelry all together.
Eventually I realized that I didn’t really want to make and sell jewelry, anyway, and that led me to feel like there was no point in making it at all.
If there is no producing-something-of-value, don’t bother doing it at all? Is that what I really believe?
Is there such a thing as a hobby that produces nothing but is still enjoyable?
Or are those hobbies just not appealing to me, because I’m wired to create things?
Pattern #3 – Practicing and pushing
Driving to the hiking trail the other day, I saw a father and son in a grassy area.
They had set up six or seven orange traffic cones in a line, and the boy was kicking a soccer ball while weaving between the cones.
Then I noticed that the father had a stop watch, and was timing his son as he practiced the drills.
Seeing that made me feel incredibly sad. Even writing about it now, I kind of want to cry.
Just that one little scene triggered so much stuff.
My stuff around competition and sports and needing to push myself to get better at whatever I was doing. From a very early age. And my stuff around winning and losing.
They turned “going out and kicking a ball around” into “objectively evaluating performance.”
Pattern #4 – The knitting
As I’ve mentioned before, I picked up my knitting again and am working on finishing that scarf I started five long years ago.
Knitting is a bit of a weird hobby for me because I feel like I need to be doing something else while I knit. Watch TV or listen to a podcast or something.
But I’ve been wondering if I’m really enjoying it, or if it’s turned into a Thing to Produce.
If I’m doing a “fun” activity that doesn’t absorb my full attention, does it count as fun? Does it provide the replenishment I’m looking for?
All of which leads me to…
I’m very aware that I need to learn how to replenish myself
I’ve started working on a pretty big thing. A big, scary thing that I want to do but oh it’s so scary.
(Which ties in nicely with Eileen’s post where she talks about the contradiction of wanting and not wanting to do things.)
And maybe because it’s big and scary, after I’ve worked on it for a while, I’m completely drained.
Can’t even hang out on Twitter drained.
And it’s been happening a lot lately. Which is part of what led me to being more dedicated to getting out of the house to go for a hike. And more dedicated to spending some time knitting every night.
Yet I’m continuing to have trouble recovering from feeling drained. So I’ll keep working on it.
But here are the real questions:
Have I ever done any activity, ever, without looking at it in terms of accomplishment and production?
Is my tendency to look at hobbies or “fun” in those terms part of why I’m feeling so drained and having a hard time recharging my batteries?
Or is this just the nature of the true creative process, and it’s only now that I’ve begun to use the full extent of my creative energy?
I don’t think it’s inherently a negative to find pleasure in creating or producing something. (That’s sort of what art is all about, right?) There’s also nothing wrong with wanting to improve our skills at something.
But where is the line between enjoying it and turning it into a mountain that needs to be climbed or a game that needs to be won?
Today’s comment zen:
This was me sharing my thought process. A process that has not reached conclusion, yet. I want to hear what you think about your patterns around creativity and fun. Can you relate to what I’ve shared?
But please be very gentle with these thoughts and questions o’ mine. Let’s definitely keep this a should-free zone.