Brick by Brick

Life has moved into a new phase. I’ve finished grad school and hiked Machu Picchu and started a new job and purchased a house and haven’t played video games in 50+ days. The trip and the house have swallowed up all the free time I imagined I would have in a post-grad school world, but some of those demands are easing a bit.

As much as everything has changed, there’s one thing that remains the same, that stubbornly unchecked box next to “write more.” Still, the pieces of my time are ripe for reconfiguration. New house, new habits, an excuse to shake-up the patterns my wife and I have developed for our free time. The problem, of course, is the way life tends to expand to fill empty space. (An aside, this is exactly what I’ve been telling my wife in an effort to quell her anxiety about moving from an apartment to a house that’s double the square footage). Free time isn’t really free. It quickly becomes earmarked, some backroom part of my brain constantly calculating and configuring and always aching for more time to “relax.” It’s instinct, and it’s hard to fight against instinct. But that’s what it will take. If writing more is what I’d like to do, I’ll have to carve it out. It will take force. It will take the prying apart of all the boards that make up the wall of excuses. It seems a painstakingly slow brick-by-brick process.

The not-playing-video-games-for-50-days is a victory worth celebrating, I suppose. But man, it takes effort. It’s tiring. It’s not like I haven’t finished the Witcher 3 because I’m like “Eh, who cares.” I care, and I badly want to get lost in the escape video games provide. It’s an exertion of willpower, and I find it leaves me mentally exhausted. It’s less like being unshackled from weights so that you can finally fly and more like losing the only piece of driftwood that was keeping you afloat in a storm. I feel a certain degree of drift. There’s a desire to try and get in touch with some emotions, to write something deeper or exploring a more complicated thought or feeling. But it’s nothing more than a faint, flickering flame in the gale force wind that is the desire for distraction. I hoped by getting off the game bandwagon I’d be able to build a little shelter around that wisp of fire, see if I can’t get it to grow into something more substantial. I’ve done nothing more than just write a day here or a day there, just tossing a few sticks in its direction.

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