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October 25, 2012

Disparity, not Despair

If you’ve been following me at all lately, you’ve probably noticed how my life has degraded to an adolescent jaunt. I’ve been describing myself as the mythical Oisin, wandering through Tir Na Nog (see posts Extinct Ideas, Black Feathered Phoenix, and The Middle Way?) and my Facebook account certainly provides ample evidence for this hypothesis. I’m constantly making new friends in the 21-24 age range and thus showing up in their photos. For every picture posted online there are another 10 nights of partying that don’t make a feed. Going out five nights a week provides a plethora of wild tales.

This is by design. I’m purposely trying to experience this lifestyle and I’ve set goals for myself for how much I go out as a way to offset any guilt. In other words, if I just went out this much by accident, I’d feel guilty, like I needed to do more, apply myself, but by declaring in advance that I’m going to go out a lot, I don’t feel guilty. While that’s been working for the last couple years, the lifestyle is starting to lead me.

While being led, I’ve found that I’m not becoming the person I want to be. I imagine a five-year extrapolation of my current lifestyle and visualize Dean at the end of On the Road, where his arm is perpetually broken and pregnant girls are trying to get him to settle down. On some level I’m aware that I need to settle down, like I need to point my day to day at the five year plan, but somehow, despite knowing what needs to be done, I’m just not doing it. I think maybe this is what failure feels like.

I’ve often complained that people who fail at reaching their goals are typically dreamers that have no idea how to subdivide accomplishment down into actionable steps you can immediately take. I assumed that once the actions were identified, taking the actions would be trivial. I mean if you want to be a guitar god, you probably like playing guitar and therefore practicing guitar, playing with people, writing songs, getting in bands, etc., would be fun and likely a normal part of what you would do during your personal time anyway. Some goals are less directly applicable to actionable tasks, but you still have to do it and hopefully if the goal is right, the actions will also be enjoyable.

Recently, I’ve been having doubts in my own path. Why do I want a PhD? How will it benefit me? And more than that, can I tolerate all the little things I have to do along way? My lifestyle is changing me: what I want short term, long term, romantically, and everything else. I think I’ve hit a wall and maybe I need a change. Maybe I need to alter course, but to what heading?

Do I give up the late nights and grind this degree out? Maybe I go the other way and finally ride off into the sunset, join the MC, get more tats, turn to a life of crime, and forget about saving the world. I think, left to my own devices, I’d be willing to take this path. My mission appears to be out of reach, perhaps it’s just over the horizon, but nevertheless out of sight. I’m finding out that I don’t work well in this situation; I lose motivation, and drift to vice.

I find this sailing without a heading to be depressing. I start to feel a reactionary need to make drastic changes even when I know the right thing to do is to stay the course. My daily motivation to do anything at all related to school dwindles with each passing day and it doesn’t help when after giving such little effort, I continue to excel. My natural gifts in academia bolster my GPA, but undermine my will to go on.

I’ve taken to identifying this emotion as disparity. While it feels like despair, and makes me want to run away; I have to logically recognize that the feeling comes from the disparity between the person I want to be and the person I am being. I need to find the motivation to take the short-term unpleasant actions that will refine me into the person I want to be. This includes the gym, playing guitar, completing my classwork to the best of my ability, etc.

For now, I’m not giving up the nightlife. “The nightlife ain’t no good life, but it’s my life.” (Walt Breeland/Willie Nelson/Paul Buskirk) I’m simply restructuring, remotivating. We’ll see how long it lasts; I’ve got new goals for introverted activities.

Song of the Month (or longer)

Song of the Month is by Scott H. Biram. I was sure I had heard this song forever, but apparently it was written by Biram and only came out in 2009. It’s like he pulled this from the collective consciousness, and songs like this prove that Austin deserves its high standing in world music culture. This is "Still Drunk, Still Crazy, Still Blue":
     Well the broken part of me
     and this trouble so hard
     and this washed up way of livin'
     since we been apart
     and after all we been through
     and even after I lost you
     I'm still drunk, I'm still crazy, I'm still blue