“This kind of thinking infused the second half of my life with a conflicted mentality: Sometimes I thought life was precious, and everything was so important; but other times I thought humans were insignificant, and nothing was worthwhile. Anyway, my life passed day after day accompanied by this strange feeling…”
—Cixin Liu, The Three-Body Problem
Fam, I’m still alive and kicking.
Sometimes alive and crying.
Sometimes alive and crying and kicking. It gets messy.
I am rereading Atomic Habits by James Clear.
Here's what he said about goals v habits:
"The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It's not about any single accomplishment."
We can choose what to focus on:
trying to win a game
fiddling around with the game.
I’ve spent a lot of time fiddling around with the game. Adjusting, tweaking, improving, streamlining.
Not playing the game.
Usually not winning any games.
Too busy fixing to play! Too busy fixing to win!
"I don't fully understand it but it goes something like this: YOU can't fix it. You can't fix anything. YOU don't have that power. Give it up. You don't control it. None of it. So quit trying. Because that YOU doesn't even exist. We are just pretending we have found a better version of ourselves to take the wheel. More bullshit."
—a modern zen of bullshit master
Here’s what I've realized about trying to fix things, or people, or myself: I can't.
If it's broken, it's broken. Trying to fix it won't make it less broken. I'm delaying the inevitable: in the face of brokenness, acceptance is the only possible response.
If it isn't broken, trying to fix it is a waste of time.
Maybe it’s broken and it fixes itself:
“All that had seemed a tremendous problem at the time, and yet it had solved itself without difficulty. Why could he never learn to worry less about problems? Problems not infrequently solved themselves."
—George R. Stewart, Earth Abides
I like that option.
And I like knowing it’s not up to me to fix all the things, broken or unbroken.
The whole discussion gets a bit cyclical and hilarious when you ask: Am I fixing my tendency to try to fix everything? Well, maybe. I don't know.
I'm going to do something new and exciting: not overthink it.
Paradox may be the most beautiful and predictable part of life. Not taking oneself too seriously is a fine trait. So let's go with the self-deprecating paradox of fixing my tendency to fix, of setting a goal to not have goals, and be okay with it.
Being okay with it is a place I want to start living.
Being okay with it all. Acceptance. Surrender. Releasing control. It's a weird thing, the idea that I need to release control: because the truth is, I don't have control in the first place. Oh, sure, I have control over some things. That's called responsibility. But trying to take responsibility for what isn't mine, for what I can't, or shouldn't rightly, control, isn't taking responsibility. It's grasping for control. And it's no good.
What is good?
So much. So much is good.
To be completely real, there is also much that is not good.
But here, in this small point of time/space that is life, there is an even smaller slice of reality that is my life. And an even smaller piece of a piece of a piece is all that I can control in my life.
In that small point, that tiny pencil dot on infinite paper, the less I try to fix what-is-not-good, the more good I see.