Last week, I lost all motivation to produce. I fell into a kind of mental stupor, desiring nothing more than a void space in which I could be deprived at the sensory level. Granted, I had just completed yet another homeschool year, and so exhaustion was natural. Also, I was feeling low over my sister’s unexpected heart surgery–unexpected because she’s young, healthy, and physically fit (although I was feeling low simply because I love my sister). But there was another problem mixed in that was wreaking havoc on my mental state. The week before, I had thrown myself into writing a book with a conceit that had been running through my mind for some time. Yes, that was the crux of my personal–rather than external–issues.
I had, on a subconscious level, locked myself back into the “need to write/study/research in order to survive” mentality that I’ve been oppressing myself with for nearly all my life. Somehow, I had forgotten that I’d freed myself of those bonds–that I really didn’t need to retie them around my own wrists. Becoming aware of this was a good first step. It allowed me to loosen my restraints again. Some of my readers, if they’re self-aware intellectuals, will understand what I’m talking about. For those people, I’m sure I could create a twelve-step program or something similar that helps people who are addicted to intellectual projects first recognize that they have a problem in the first place. It could be called AA or Academics Anonymous, but would probably not remain very anonymous after all their close family members and friends received phone calls, in which effusive apologies and begging of forgiveness ensued. Having looked up the twelve-step program on Wiki, I’m guessing the phone call falls at step eight, though I can’t be sure. I’ve never been in a program; my experience lies only in receiving these types of calls.
I’ve, personally, worked my way through the first seven steps: I admitted I was powerless over intellectual projects–that my life had become unmanageable. I came to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity. I made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understood Him. I made a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself. I admitted to God, to myself, and to another human being the exact nature of my wrongs (I’m doing this step now). I’m entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. I humbly ask Him to remove my shortcomings (copied from here). You think I’m trying to be amusing. I’m not. Okay, maybe I’m being a little lighthearted, but who’s to say an addiction to alcohol is more damaging to self and others than an addiction to intellectual projects, if an addiction to intellectual projects equally operates as a means of self-protection?
Thankfully, the phone call won’t be necessary because I found another way–or should I say I was blessed with another way through my Higher Power? My birthday was on Sunday. Yes, that’s a blessing, but not the one I mean. Generally, we have family parties with my parents and maybe some of my children’s friends. My parents were out of town, so I invited two of my new Tech friends over for grilled quail. It was one of those freeing, happy evenings. Intellectuals who avoid people don’t always realize how freeing it is to hang around creative people–physically, not on the internet, with food, beer, and wine. The conversation and ideas filled that deep well in my soul that longs for creativity. It reminded me that, at one time, I had enthusiastically changed the course of my staid existence and determined to become a mechanical engineer–to shift my mental focus toward creating tangible things that will, hopefully, bring about tangible income.
For those who understand what I’m talking about, my takeaway for you is this: hang out with creative people and banter over ideas every once in a while and forget for a few blessed moments that you haven’t completed that scholarly dissertation on the psychological development of moles yet. You don’t have to give up your study of moles. But you must learn to take a break from them. Control the moles, or they will control you.