Down the intellectual rabithole
Parts of me want to write. Parts of me want to learn new things. There's a tension between those two groups of parts. And then there's me--if, in fact, I exist. Ask me what I want you'll get an answer that supports the writing-wanting parts. "I want to write," I'll say. Or something, claiming to me, will say.
So here we all are, all the members of the Internal Family System, writing. We're writing, instead of learning new things. If you're a Part who wants to write, I hope you're happy. Or at least not terribly unhappy. And if you're a Part that wants to learn new things, hang on. You'll learn things.
The thing is: I learn new things when I write. It's not as though writing is a loss for the "let's learn new things" faction. But the process is slower. And it's kind of painful. And there's a reason.
Life is unsatisfactory. So says the Buddha and Steven B. Hayes of ACT Therapy and lots of other people. Including me, from time to time. All of life is unsatisfactory, but some parts are more unsatisfactory than others. Learning new things is unsatisfactory because the new thing doesn't answer all outstanding questions. And because learning new thing A means I'm not learning new things B, C, and D that I'd also hoped to learn. And worse, because new thing A introduces me to new things E-M. So my list of new things to learn has just gotten longer. Learning is unsatisfactory.
Writing about what I've learned is even more unsatisfactory. Note that being more unsatisfactory is NOT the same as being less satisfactory. It's not a reduction in a positive good. It's a superabundance of something negative, the same way that "less pleasure" is not in any way the same as "more pain." If I write about topic A then I'm not writing about B, C, and D, and I'm not learning about E, F, and G. But writing is even worse. I'm writing sentences, each of which is unsatisfactory. And the paragraphs, are unsatisfactory in so many other ways. They may be in the wrong order. They may be unnecessary. They may be too short, or too long.
It gets worse. The cause of many forms of unsatisfactoriness are outside me, but some are caused be me. There's the fact that there are 24 hours in a day. There's the fact that knowledge is being created faster than I can possibly absorb it. There's the fact that everything on the internet is linked to every other fucking thing, so that everything I learn leads to everything I haven't learned. These are all outside mt. But the fact that a sentence sucks is no one's fault but my own. So many of the dissatisfactions of writing proceed come from me. From what I've written. From the way that I've written it. That makes it twice as worse.
The thing is, there's nothing to be done. Or is there?
I can't make the dissatisfaction go away, but I can change its meaning. Maybe.
When I was an adolescent, I remembered just a few days ago, I reveled in my suffering. I was proud of my angst. I was contemptuous of the kids who seemed to glide through life unaware of--well, unaware of almost everything. Life is easy when you do what you're told to do, think what you're told to think, say what you're supposed to say, feel what you're supposed to feel. Life is easy when all the answers are known and all you have to do is do your best. But not for me.
I remember walking our dog, one cold clear winter's night, looking up at the stars, and wondering when--or if--my real parents would arrive and take me home--away from this planet. I didn't belong here. Everything was alien to me. Wrong. Ill-fitting.
I remember the discomfort I felt--my teen-aged self might have called it pain--and how the very fact of my pain made me special. Better.
Perhaps I would do well to recover that point of view. Perhaps it would help me if I embraced my discomfort; if I ran toward it rather than away. Perhaps I'll publish this, and go do something else uncomfortable and dissatisfying.
Perhaps I'll do it now.