Articulated living

8 06 2008

Hmmm…. just ordered a book from Amazon about working through creative-type-person depression. I would gladly put the title up here, if I could remember the title. Perhaps I should buy a book about memory loss. Aha- looked it up. The “Van Gogh Blues.”

Anyhow, what I liked about the book is that it says that creative-type people are prone to a depression that our solider citizens rarely grappel with. The author- whose name I never bothered to remember but who is some kind of life coach guru- says that creative people often get the blues because they have a meaning crisis in their lives.

A meaning crisis, which I guess is that funk you get into when you wonder why life all seems like a big waste of time, fear that you’re spending your life on trivialities, and have a sudden collapses of self esteem because, when you actually get some work done, it doesn’t seem to matter at all anyway. A funk. A depression. An angst, sort of a German philosopher’s world-weary, why are we here anyway kind of emotion.

He says more concrete people do not struggle with this as much because they don’t see a real need for significance in their lives as long as everything is functioning well, the kids are behaving, and dinner wasn’t burnt. They are too busy getting on with things to bother with angst. Whereas others of us are up at 2 a.m. obsessing about the purpose of life and whether the sufferings of people in a war zone invalidates our impulse to live for art.

He gives four steps for getting out of this funk, which I find very comforting. I like books with steps. I have a great deal of faith that some day I’m going to apply just the right step, process, or system and my life will finally congeal and order will appear out of chaos. So steps are good.

1) To articulate a life plan that feels meaningful and to strive to live by that plan.

2) To articulate (boy, a lot of articulating going on here) what constitutes worthy work and to accomplish that worthy work.

3) To articulate how the seconds, hours, weeks, and years that make up your life will be made to feel meaningful and to strive to actually make them feel meaningful.

4) To put the first three intentions into practice in a coordinated way.

Whew.

Step one: determine your purpose in life. Oddly enough, I did not find my purpose spelled out very clearly in “The Purpose-Driven Life.” I suppose living for God is a purpose, but when I get up in the morning and pray, “So, God, dear heavenly Father, sir, what would you like me to do today?” He, although attentive and encouraging, has a way of not answering me, leaving me to muddle along with it alone. So until God deigns to put a sticky note agenda on my night table every morning, a little more guidance could be a good thing.

So, step one- formulate a purpose statement. This smacks very much of Franklin Covey’s mission statement. SInce I already wrote one of these, I can just use that. Step one completed. I haven’t even read the book yet, and I’m already done with one step! Am I amazing or what?

The second and third ones are talking about deciding what part of what I do is actually meaningful. What would meaningful work look like. Is cleaning the toilet meaningful? Is skipping the dishes to work on a poem I will never publish meaningful? Is reading bedtime stories to my kids instead of doing the bills or working on my novel meaningful? And if I decide that toilet cleaning or poem writing is meaningful, can I allow myself to feel good about taking time to do it?

The fourth step may be especially hard for me, as I cannot remember a time when I did anything in a coordinated way. Hopefully the book will have more insight on this point. Surely a book that has a whole chapter on how to stop negative self-talk and self-criticism would have to be a good thing.

Must go entertain husband. Hoping this counts as a meaningful activity. Must remember meaningful does not necessarily mean what I feel like doing at the moment- it means working towards accomplishing my life goals. Since one of my life goals is to have an excellent relationship with my husband, and since I have been bad tempered brat most of the day, I guess I had better stop typing and go shmooze with the big guy.

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