When You Can’t Be Arsed…

“I hate writing, I love having written.”

Dorothy Parker

I’m going to ask you a question now. It’s one that I have battled with – and been fascinated by – for many years now.

“Should you do the things you want to do, or the things you know you should do?”

In any given moment, I’m a bit of shit. I’m arrogant. Rude. I feel like I don’t know who I am, but I also know for sure that I hate myself. And most annoying of all, I can’t be bothered. To do anything. Whatsoever.

Once I get into motion, however, it’s a completely different story. I perk up. I start feeling real again. Is this what they call being happy? This has always presented a problem. How do I decide what I should do, moment-to-moment? The honest-to-God answer when I ask myself what I actually feel like doing is almost always “drink a bottle of wine.” And I don’t like to think of what would happen to my lovely white teeth if I gave into that impulse every time.

I’ve tried bullying myself into being productive. Fortunately, the results were so paltry that I never managed to keep it up for long. But yeah, I’ve reasoned now and again that if I never feel like doing anything useful, then maybe I should just ignore what I feel like completely and disconnect and just… go through the motions with something.

But every time I do, that way of living makes me even more miserable. I get nothing done that means anything to me, and I don’t even get the dopamine hit of insant gratification either.

Well, it took a long time, but what I came to realise is that there are really two of me, co-existing. One of me is calm, soft, and patient, and wants pretty much the same things year-in, year-out with variations over time. The other me wants what it wants right now and it isn’t afraid to let me know about it. Loudly.

If I try to make the first one happy, the second one invariably shuts up and comes along for the ride. But – crucially – it does not work the other way round.

So these days, when I’m being clever, I generally try my best to ignore what I want in this exact moment and focus instead on what I want in general.

Life isn’t about only doing things you want to do in the moment. But it’s also a tragedy to just indiscriminately do things you don’t want to do.

No, life is about doing the things you know you truly want to do, even – or perhaps especially – in the moments you really don’t feel like it.

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