Today is a lazy Saturday. I wish it was less lazy, but sometimes you have to play the hand your dealt. Or do you? If I wished it were less lazy, what is stopping me from hoisting myself up and making it so!
I think even doing things that you want to do can be very difficult. A lot of it comes down to motivation and willpower, but I think it's more than that. I think a common pitfall is to think that "oh, if only I had more willpower I'd do this thing I want to do, but sadly I can't". At least, I've fallen into that trap before.
I don't like the way that that perspectives views willpower. Almost like it's some external, immutable characteristic that gets to control whether you get to do fun things or waste your time. I've rambled before how willpower is like a muscle. If you're feeling lazy, wishing you had more willpower to do something and then you don't do it? That muscle atrophies and grows even weaker. Things like that don't change without effort. No growth or improvement happens without some effort and a little bit of pain.
Anyway, that's one frame for viewing willpower. A particularly preachy one at that. This would fit right in on those masculine motivational Tiktoks or subreddits, and I don't really think that's the tone I'm aiming for here. Plus, if it were that simple then I'd simply get up, go outside, and do something more interesting than laze around all day. I think there's more to be said here.
An issue I face is that even if I were always energized and ready to seize the day, I don't always know exactly what there is to be seized. It takes a lot of energy and foresight to make interesting plans for things to do, and sometimes even if you want to do something it's too late to plan it. That's not to say that just going out for a walk or cleaning the house aren't worthwhile ways to spend an afternoon, but in my opinion they're ultimately less fulfilling.
Maybe this is just a me thing. A part of my deep down wants to do great things. Things that I know I'll remember; that make me feel cool. I'll always remember my first time skiing, and a few exceptional plays I watched. My first time trying martial arts or working on projects like this website. And I do have other projects right now around me that I could work on. Learning chess, or practicing piano. Why haven't I been doing them?!
Suddenly, after writing all this, I have a newfound urge to get back to working on all these little projects I have laying around that I somehow magically have forgotten about. I'm amazed. Do I suddenly have more willpower now? I still don't know if that's the best way to describe it, but I suppose so.
I guess I'd just lost touch with my motivations. I've described myself before as alternating between active intense periods full of excitement and new activities, and quiet relaxing periods where I don't do much. Oftentimes what manages to switch my energy is just reading or watching the right thing that triggers the same shift that I've just had right now.
What specifically causes this to happen? I think sometimes it's when I think about the future and the limitless possibilities before me, as I was doing just now, that causes me to not waste a single second because my many goals are suddenly within reach. Or other times, it feels like all I have to is let me ambition get me excited for one thing which spreads like wildfire to make me excited to do everything else.
There's an ancient idea, encapsulated in a phase. Memento mori. Remember death. Great greek philosophers would wander graveyards to remind themselves that, some day, all men must die. I wonder if they were channeling something similar to what I am in this very moment. Conceptualizing the future, making it real, drawing energy from it back to the present so that they may be ever more ready to seize all that life has to offer.
Am I similar. Instead of active and passive, maybe these two states can be described as conscious of the future and focused on the present. In the former I am making plans and commitments for my future self, and in the latter I am
wasting time conserving energy and recuperating from all my exertions. Framed like that, it seems like what ultimately drives me to learn and practice new skills is the vision of my future self who will have mastered those skills and will effortlessly be able to display them.
Is that bad? That sometimes I don't do things because of pure intrinsic enjoyment but rather because I'm just waiting for the end result? I tell myself that I care more about the journey than the destination, and this seems kind of like doing the opposite.
Honestly, I think that if I have to visualize my future self before being motivated to do something then that is probably an unsustainable state of affairs. I think I may have been relying on that as a motivational shortcut, but there are definitely other ways to rekindle my passions other than being handed a get out of jail free card from the future. I'd even go so far as to say that truly enjoying something is the only way to truly be good at something, and so I should try to focus more on picking activities that genuinely stir my soul.
Anyway, I've had enough sitting around. I'm off to go practice piano. If anyone is reading this, including myself, take this as a reminder to go do something you love too.