When even relaxation is work

An old black cat, looking at you

Dear Faceless Void,

This past week has brought back a painful awareness to me. Everything is work. This obviously includes the actions I take to keep money in my bank account, but also all of the various creation I engage in. It includes things that should most definitely not be work, such as watching a show for pleasure, playing a video game, or even sleeping. And yes, even writing to you, dear void. All of this is work.

Loving the black void that is my cat is work, although work I do gladly.

That is right jankers, you might say. Yeah, you are right. You also might try to suggest things that I haven’t tried that might not be work, or things I haven’t thought of that I have done and am just discounting in my current state of mind. But it isn’t the activities unto themselves that make them work.

The justifiably cynical call this era a “late capitalist hellscape”. They aren’t wrong. The society we live in tells us that our intrinsic worth is equal to the monetary value of our actions. Logically, we can say this is wrong. Emotionally, we can feel that is wrong. But it doesn’t fix the system, nor get rid of the torrent of reinforcement that is being fed to us.

There is always a thought muttering in the back of my mind, an incessant reminder that at all times, there are other things I could be doing. Should be doing. Will have to do. Stringing pearls without a knot doesn’t even begin to touch the feeling. Right now, I am thinking about how I have scripts to write for videos I need to record, I should be making more of the CATnet reviews, writing any of the three short stories on my plate, or even getting started on my next novel, of which there are two options. I also need to make time to spend with my family, run errands, take care of the cats, maintain the house, and be active enough on social media that I don’t completely drop of people’s radars, and maybe even find new readers.

All of this on top of multiple projects at the “pays the bill” job, and working around medical appointments. Oh, and I need to find time after all of that to consume media, be it TV shows, books, games, what-have. Eventually, somewhere in there, I need to sleep and eat.

I hate living like this, dear void. It is withering, when even things I enjoy have this constant taste of needing to be scheduled, that indulging too much OR too little is a failure. I am often told to give myself grace, to have self-compassion, to give myself permission to not be fully productive. But how? The sense of obligation is too strong.

But, thank you for listening. Just saying these things, putting them out into the ether, it helps. I must guard against this becoming some overwrought livejournal blog of yore, bemoaning my own existential dreads. I hope that, maybe, by venting my frustration, though, it can help others be seen.

I spoke of compassion last time, and empathy. Strange I can have so much for others, yet so little for myself. I should step back, view myself with my own eyes as I do others, and remind myself that others will have that compassion for me. Above all else, I must find a way to do things because I want to do them, not because I feel beholden. I have, in my current difficulties, often found the strength to keep going in doing things for others. But that will just perpetuate the problem, not help it.

But not today. Today, I work on. And there is a grace and compassion in that, I suppose. I know what I must do, it has been added to the never-ending list. But to be able to say “not today, though” helps.

Until next time,