I am trying to think of a project for November. I might very well do NaNoWriMo, as I have nothing better on my mind.
I haven’t the slightest idea what I want.
Or rather, what I want that seems to be Worthy of Doing.
All these productivity books and inspirational material and all that smack? They talk about that damn Robert Frost poem. Let me tell you, I’ve done things that were out of the norm. Just being out of the norm, just being extraordinary, doesn’t blasted well make something worth doing. I mean, sure, sure, it might be.
But it might not.
Figart Consulting? Sure, sure, I get a charge out of my “office” folding up in my purse so that I can work anywhere. In my pajamas, on a train, on a balcony at the beach. That’s all awesome.
But without self-control, it means you’re working everywhere, which isn’t necessarily a great thing.
So what about some of the other writing projects or community building I’ve participated in?
Yeah, sure, that was worthwhile, though I cannot say that ultimately the circumstances surrounding their creation were particularly happiness-inducing. I learned a lot and left a body of work behind me that has been stated to be worthwhile from some sources that are more than a little flattering.
And that’s all cool. But when trying to think about what to do with one’s life and one’s time, sometimes I think the advice we get doesn’t make much sense. A lot of it seems to be a bit too much centered around what other people are going to think about you when you’re gone.
You know what?
In general, even people you had a great effect on aren’t going to give you an extraordinary amount of thought after you’re gone. I’m not talking about close personal relationships here. I mean the wider world.
Take Heinlein. I cried when I heard he died, yes. His work had a deep and profound effect on my life. His life? That effect meant nothing to him. It couldn’t. He never knew I existed. He died before the effects of his work on me could make themselves known in the world. Hell, he might have rolled his eyes or been horrified at what I’d done with his work and his ideas.
I think, other than attempting to be kind (and God, can you misjudge THAT!), you can’t live your life with an eye to your legacy. It makes your days anxious, empty and unsure.
But even so, our lives are limited. What makes the actual hours one lives worthwhile? Making stuff? I find extraordinary pleasure in making stuff, yes. I have a skull table runner on a black tablecloth right now that I made for my October decorations and they make me happy. I feel good that I did it, and I had fun doing it.
Does it benefit anyone in the wider world? Not really. I have this home I keep neat and orderly and nicely decorated, and the only reason I do it is that it gives me pleasure to be in it. I rarely have company, so few people see it.
Knitting? I get sweaters I like out of it, and that’s nice. That’s not Road Less Traveled stuff, though. There really won’t be much of a legacy going on because I knitted my husband a Slytherin Sweater while listening to Spinning Silver (BTW, the audiobooks is extraordinarily well done).
Working out? Certainly, I like having a body that’s strong enough for my needs. I want my blood sugar to go down, so I’m dieting. That’s less a project and more health maintenance. I’d like to put off the day I must go on insulin as long as possible. So far, so good. That’s a nice goal, but hardly Great Work.
“Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway.” — The Hobbit, or there and back again, by J.R.R. Tolkien.
The reality? I love my quiet life and my little hobbit hole. And I feel vaguely guilty about loving it, as if loving that little life is really copping out somehow. I think that’s why I am starting to chew my lip at the Excellence Literature that we’re seeing. It’s as if this quiet life is somehow not worthy, even when it was chosen with open eyes and on purpose!