I feel the big sigh after it's already escaped me. I'm looking for something. I don't think I'm finding it and I'm pushing myself forward. Sometimes I think I did find something. I make a little mental note. I write it down or save it. Maybe I even share it so it can be a finding for someone else. A part of their path, day, moment. I wait for the algorithmic feedback. I update my expectations and search accordingly.
What am I looking for? I think it's proof. Proof that I'm alive. Proof other humans exist despite their total physical absence in my isolated life. Proof that other people see reality the same way. Trading our little proofs on a platform that monetizes it. Watching ads overtake the algorithm so none of us are happy but we are still here. Until something else shows up, which might be what we are looking for. You shut out the world to figure yourself out. You miss out. Going back is overwhelming. You drown in the existence of others.
The pace of your scrolling intensifies. Not this. Not that. Oh god no. Shadow book, side hustle, September Surge. You get a little app blocker. An app to block other apps. You track emotions and self care. You journal. You go to therapy. You take cold showers or jump in tubs of ice. The gap between discourse, between tips and tricks and insights, widens into an ache. What are you missing?
Besides of course everything. The chorus of friends laughter at a party. Your friends karaoke nights. The excitement and frustration of new skills at circus class. The disappointment and bonding of a bad date. Chances at life.
All these choices slip through your fingers and others scrambled and gobbled them up. Then they told you how delicious it all was. But you share too and you can see past their sharing. It's not enough. Consumption is not enough to fill this void. It is not enough to bury the cognitive dissonance and trauma of what happened.
You try to want more. To be like other people. To at least want to survive even with the constant messaging that your life is not worth living. But your heart's not in it anymore. The way you paid off all your debt, watched your credit score rise, tracked your net worth, researched personal finances, budgeted.
You are so responsible. Even when you hated a job you tried because you should feel lucky and grateful for the pay, the work life balance, that you can work remote, that people want your intellect and not your manual labor. But instead of luck you feel loneliness. You start to long for another life. But you don't know what that looks like. Let alone what it feels like. And people say you should summon the feelings you want and work backwards. I want to feel safe in the world. My safety is your safety. How do I manifest an equation I can't balance? How do I optimize life inside shrinking boundaries? They aren't my boundaries and choices, they're yours.
So here I am on a Monday afternoon. Knowing all the things I should do and some of the things I could do. And not wanting to move forward. I don't want to do things anymore, to keep moving. I want to make it stop. I see what one person does to respond to this moment, this crisis. The existing storms and incoming ones. And I admire them. We need it. But I am not them.
I shuffle my skills and history and interests around. The person who did those things, I admire them. But I am not them. I absorb my SAD lamp rays and ignore my dog's bids to play. Dear Cakie Bakie, my nickname for myself. Do you want to write an article about APIs and web scraping? Do you want to try this company's product and finish this job application? Do you want to take Pepper to the dog park? Do you want to avoid the frustration of finances and task organization? I ask but I don't wait for answers.
I check my metrics. The weather, my step count. Oh I forgot to track that audiobook I finished. Then a thread pulls and I remember the book from last night. The mechanisms of cognition that maybe explained or offered a way to make sense of all of this.
Maybe that's the search. Sense. If I know what is wrong, I could fix it. The lie I built myself on for so long. The lie that wore me into the ground, tricked me into constant battle. As long as I'm wasting time and attention on why, I'll forget the what and how. Of tearing this whole thing down.
My dog slurps water and I think about my own missing hydration. One thing is always superseding the rest. It's all connected but I don't understand the shift. I chase balance like it's an outcome in its own right. I tracked the audiobook in two places because fuck Amazon and Goodreads and yet I can't walk away. I remember the product pain of leaving Spotify. Tidal is not as good. I don't listen to music as much. I traded a core tool of regulation to take a stand and in some ways I regret it. I drift back to yesterday when the songs kept buffering during my workout despite no network issues. I think about my earbuds not always starting. The gamble of "do I fuck with this" as the frustration mounts. As I search the internet to remember commands for this or that because even with daily use my head can't possibly remember all of it. The instructions for a modern life. A whole box of manuals and none are about me.
I think to a few days ago marinating in frustration at my desk, tabs open everywhere. As I attempt to organize my digital life and tasks. As I once again try to follow Getting Things Done. Surely I can GTD myself into motivation. Money and survival is on the other side. A 130 dollar Notion template promises to be the answer. Made by one man, validated by another. I don't want to buy it and I don't want to be him, but I follow him on Twitter anyways. Another failed system to manage my attention and energy. Failed because I barely attempted. Not because I gave it my all. Not because I could own trying or the attempt.
My wasted potential is back to trick me into the next burnout.
We search because it's not enough. I'm not alone in it. But I feel alone in it. Maybe that's what I'm looking for. Or maybe that's why I'm looking.