To continue in the solipsistic vein I seem to have established, I need to visit a quality that’s always eluded me. Ever since I was a pixie-haired youngster, I’ve dodged discipline in favor of the sly sprint.
With writing, I’ve often abandoned the page for weeks, only to hole up, spending a weekend in obsessive wordsmithing. Which would be fine, I think, if it weren’t accompanied by grandiose plans—calendarized promises: if I keep up this pace, I’ll have a manuscript by Christmas!
A month ago I popped one of my daughter’s abandoned Ritalins, thinking maybe the chemical imperative therein would keep me on task. The resulting effect was several hours of meth-like monkey mind, plunging with great resolve into the mundanist of chores. It was counter to creativity, but I did, finally, vacuum out the minivan!
My ex-husband (and yes, I know he’s reading this) perpetually accuses me of fickleness and erratic mood swings. Like anyone confronted with labels that tend to invite dismissiveness (e.g. since I’m erratic he’s not accountable for his behavior because no matter what he does my response will be dictated by biochemistry) I balk. True, he often got the worst of me (much like a parent gets to absorb their child’s tantrums while the teacher sees only an earnest, well-behaved kid), but I’ve come to conclude that my lack of resolve has merely become more transparent due to that good old Second Law of Thermodynamics. That’s the one about dissipated potential--you know, entropy.
Pardon my lapse into empiricism—it’s a symptom of my affliction—but entropy accurately describes the tendency of matter to achieve chaos. In other words, it gets harder and harder to pull off the successful sprint when 90% of the time I’m going with the flow in my bumbling, make-it-up-as-I-go-along way.
This morning, for instance, as I poured a packet of instant oatmeal into my son’s bowl, I wondered about all the people I know who would read the directions on the packet and employ a measuring cup for the exact amount of boiling water to add to the mix. I could only really confirm one person (the sister-in-law of my first marriage, a military wife), but it got me thinking about the fact that last month I billed 20 hours to a company who hired me to project manage the inclusion of how-to-make-instant-stuffing videos on their website.
Not only do I not measure water into oatmeal, I’ve never measured coffee, soup ingredients, laundry detergent or oil when I’ve had the occasion to dump some into my engine. Me, who holds a Bachelor’s in Food Science, prefers to wing it with muffins, pancakes, enchiladas and the Thanksgiving turkey. I suppose that’s why I’m only sometimes a good cook. Like when Mercury isn’t in retrograde or during some other metaphysically favorable condition.
So now, at age 45, I’m inviting intention into my life. No, not inviting. That would be the old Suzy Vitello. I’m painfully choosing (not always, but often) routines that fight entropy. I, the most phlegmatic chick on the planet, have engaged in twice-weekly Pilates sessions for two solid months. And they’re hard! And now, I actually look, well not forward to them, but toward them; my body has developed Pavlovian expectations that must be fulfilled. That, and I’m eating salads every day and miniscule portions of a variety of saltless foods. I’ve lost ten pounds, and that’s good; high blood pressure runs in my family (more evidence of the second Law).
And what about writing? What about writing and not answering email and not doing billable hours writing, and not allowing my mind to wander into the stinky cage of the monkey mind? I know the answer to that, and it’s even harder than Pilates.