Zen and the art of bathrobe maintenance

I’ve been trying to make sense of a few peculiar things I’ve been noticing lately. Bear with me while I suss these out a bit.

* * *

The question of how much life is enough life has been bugging me again lately, but it’s coming in at an odd angle this time.

I’m happy. Like, legitimately, substantially, and meaningfully happy. And not just for brief moments here and there, but this has become my default setting over the course of the past year.

So I’ve been trying to figure out why this feels so… wrong.

Is it because I’m not used to feeling this way consistently? Is it because I’m no longer reaching for things that gave me so much motivation in the past? Is that reaching a property of age or personality? Does comfort beget stagnation or does only desire beget desire?

With so many people dying in the last few weeks, it’s been kicking up some feelings (and gave me my first panic attack in a while). Seriously, beyond Bowie and Rickman, there were a handful of others that hit people I know and am close to, not to mention my Schrodinger’s parent situation continues – which I can no longer be sure if I’ve hit acceptance yet or looped back to denial because of the complete communication vacuum. Sigh.


I’ve been asking myself lately that same question that a few years back caught me so flat footed and triggered my last major bout of depression:

If I were to die this year, would I be happy with how things went?

Instead of the firm and visceral “No” I replied with a few years back, I now find myself thinking, “Yeah, whatever.”

I’m a bit surprised by the answer. I’ve always felt like one life could never be enough to feel and do all of the things. It’s one of the primary reasons I love fiction – it lets me live so many other lives, to feel as many things as I can before I die. And I want to feel everything humanly possible before I go.

When I first asked myself that question, I had a whole list of things I had never experienced. Basic life things, too. Like loving someone who loves you back, among others.

So I thought about all of the ways in which I was unhappy and spent the last three years systematically changing those parts of myself and my life.

As a result, I have lived a lot of life in the last few years. I have felt so many god damn feelings and I have gotten all the big life stuff sorted that had been causing me irritation or anxiety.

Now I can honestly say that if I were to spend every week of the rest of my life doing the things I’m doing now with the people I’m doing them with, I would be wanting for nothing.

I should feel accomplished and pleased with myself, and to a certain extent, I do. But beneath that, there’s a question: what now?

I don’t have an answer to that. And I suspect that’s what’s been making me uncomfortable.

* * *

One time, two of my friends were talking about what the hell they should do with their lives. One friend threw out the question: What would you do if you suddenly had more money than you could ever spend in a lifetime?

That’s a useful question in a lot of ways – a way to parse through the bullshit you have to deal with everyday and whittle down to that which you’re passionate about.

(No surprise that my answer would be that I would write full time.)

It’s also a really horrible way to approach something you’re passionate about. (How do you work towards writing full time? Wait, let’s unpack that. Holy shit that’s a lot of fucking work. And oh, hey, look, that’s something that’s no longer a viable option for the vast majority of writers out there who don’t win the Powerball, let alone ones with chronic and expensive health problems like THIS writer has).

But there’s another question that’s equally relevant:

What would your perfect day be?

(Coffee, reading, yoga, writing, see friends/watch movies/read/play music)

While achieving that Powerball dream would be nice, it’s extremely unlikely (thank YOU, colon!). But that perfect day? I have that day pretty damn often. I’m having that day so far (minus yoga – fuck you, head cold).

You’re sometimes closer than you think to what it is you want.

So while I’ve been neglecting my writing a bit over the past few years, I have been tirelessly working on rearranging my life and seeing a therapist to finally get my head sorted so I can have more of those perfect days.

So maybe I do have an answer to the question, “What now?”

Maybe I’ll pick one of those ridiculous fantasies I had as a kid (rock star/cranky writer in full-time bathrobe) and start working on that. At least now, my failure mode will be “life I have right now and am enjoying immensely.”

Happy new year. Go do a thing.

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