It’s been rough to write lately, for a number of reasons. There’s always the time thing—by the time I get done with my work for the day, I’m usually too tired to do anything creative. To be honest, though, I think if I were somehow inspired to write more, I would somehow find the creative energy.
Inspiration doesn’t come along often these days, but occasionally I do encounter something that makes me think, and I think I need to do a better job of taking advantage of such encounters. One of the main reasons for introducing these “notes” as a supplement to the longer journal entries was to have a really quick outlet for my thoughts where I didn’t have to feel pressured by the need to write a certain number of words. I must admit that I did worry I would resort to just writing brief notes and not take the time to write longer journal entries, but it’s not like I’m writing notes instead of entries. I’m writing notes instead of nothing, and a little is definitely better than nothing.
Anyway, I saw something that inspired me today. If you’ve got twenty minutes, you should go take a look at it: a video by the Counter-Intuitive Comparison Institute of North America. OK, so it’s a humorous video, and it will probably make you laugh, but even as I was laughing, I was thinking, “That’s it. They’ve hit the nail on the head here.” So go watch the video, if you haven’t already. I’ll wait until you get back.
Back? Did you enjoy it? I hope so. I hope it made you laugh—how can you not laugh at a video that compares seahorses and English people (by way of mammoths)? Humor aside, the goal of the Big Chart is to compare things that might not normally be compared in order to come up with a single most awesome thing, NCAA-tournament style. It’s absurd, of course (not to mention hilarious at times), but the underlying reasoning really did make me stop and think.
The idea of a “thing crisis”—having so many things in the world that we end up wasting a lot of our time on really crappy things—really hit home. I’ve been trying to live by a very simple philosophy lately: if it doesn’t benefit me, I don’t do it. Reduced to such a simple formulation, it sounds supremely selfish, although it would probably still be selfish even in a more complex form. But the fact of the matter is that I just don’t have the time or energy to do everything that people want me to do. At least three or four times a week I will get calls from people wanting me to do one job or another, and most of the time I say “no.” If it doesn’t advance my studies (primarily my dissertation) or benefit me directly in some way, I don’t even hesitate. Sometimes I do things that I might not normally want to do because, after careful consideration, I realize that they do benefit me in some way (most often in terms of building or maintaining positive relationships), that the return is greater than the investment, so to speak.
This applies mainly to my professional life, though, and not so much to my personal life. And I had to wonder today, as I watched the video, if I was wasting my personal time on crappy things rather than devoting it to awesome things. Take this website, for example. I really like working on it and posting content. I realize that this may come as a surprise, seeing as how little I’ve been doing on the site lately, but it’s true. I would consider this website an awesome thing, for me at least. There are things in my life that are more awesome than this website, and things that are far less awesome than my website. I have never really stopped to think about what sort of hierarchy these things might exist in, though.
I didn’t really know where I was going with this note when I started writing it, but it has occurred to me that maybe making a Big Chart of my own would be an interesting diversion. Some might see it as a waste of time, but I think writing down all the things to which I devote my precious time and then seeing where they stand in relation to each other might help me put things into perspective. It might help me prioritize. Or I might just finish writing this and then decide that this is actually a horrible idea. But I’ve put it out there, so let’s see what happens. I can’t make any promises, but man, something has got to change around here.