Sometimes I think this blog should be titled “Not Practicing What I Preach” and wonder if I shouldn’t talk about self-improvement until I’ve improved myself above a certain threshold. Other times I think maybe seeing somebody in the middle of the struggle instead of at the end of the journey might be valuable. Then I remember that this is a blog 90% dedicated to Skyrim shenanigans and I’m probably overthinking things.
Last week on real talk I highlighted the value of Ridiculous Slowness, which helps you focus on the journey instead of trying to rush to the end. I’m good at doing that sometimes, but it gets harder for me as I get closer to the end. When the finish line is in sight I get impatient with the distance I still have to cover.
Let’s reflect on how I could do better.
Closing the Book
I’ve wanted to be a published author since I was five. Eighteen years later, I’m on the cusp of being a self-published author, which technically fulfills the goal. I’m approaching a final draft of a romance novel I’ve been working on for a while, and am getting people to read it and give feedback. The goal is to publish it next month.
Being this close has gotten me anxious and a little impatient. There’s still work to do, but it’s hard to spend a couple hours going over the dialogue of a single scene when what I really want to do is finalize the book as a whole. Of course, that’s counterproductive, because now more than ever I want to be taking the time to do my best work.
This feeling can be alleviated by taking the long view. Putting my first book out there is a significant moment in my life, but it is still only one moment in my life. Right now I’m hung up on wanting to see if the book well do well or if it will flop, and either result will affect my life in the short-term. In ten or twenty years, though, how this one book does won’t matter as much as the habits I’m building right now. Whether it sells a million copies or not a single one, I still want to keep writing, so I’ll still benefit from being a more disciplined and productive writer. Instead of thinking that I am approaching the end of the journey, I must realize that this is only one leg of a far longer journey. Sprinting the next mile won’t help me walk the thousand after that.
A Change of Place
The other thing coming up in my life is less monumental, but may have a far greater impact on my daily experience. For the year and a half I’ve lived in Mexico City, I have been dwelling in a small room in a shared house. I’m finally secure enough financially that I’m looking for an apartment of my own.
Now that a new place is on the horizon, the little things that annoy me about my current situation have become much harder to deal with. The broken springs in my lopsided mattress seem to dig deeper into my back while I sleep, and the window that doesn’t close seems to let in more noise than ever. I’m impatient to find a new home, but I really should be searching with care and not jumping at the first apartment that comes up.
It’s also a good way for me to practice stoicism and mindfulness. Even once I have a better apartment, there will always be little inconveniences in life. Learning to live with them now will do me a lot of good later on.
Desdenada Is: As Real As It Gets
If the value of Ridiculous Slowness formed the bedrock for Ridiculously Slow Let’s Play posts, the genesis for Real Talk can be found in the value of Unflinching Realness. To put it another way–a way that gets me in trouble whenever I bring it up–this is the value of Anti-Escapism. I prefer to phrase my values in the positive form, rather than the negative, but escapism is rampant today and so worth talking about.
To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, one of my literary heroes, the hatred of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in the glass. Many people turn to fantasy because, rather than a mirror that reflects their own perceived ugliness, they desire a window into some beautiful illusion. They revel in this illusion while their reality continues to degrade. Garok the orc grows stronger and more celebrated with each passing day, while Gary the gamer grows sickly on the other side of the screen.
Yet anyone familiar with Oscar Wilde has probably already caught the error in my logic, because Oscar Wilde also said (paraphrasing once more) that the hatred of romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in the glass. I may reject escapism, but obviously I don’t reject fantasy. For me, fantasy has always been a window into what could be. I’m not satisfied by making my avatar strong and accomplished. My play serves as inspiration for me to make myself strong and accomplished.
That’s where the unflinching part comes in. Desdenada is Caliban looking in the glass and seeing two faces: his own, and the face of the person that he could be. While I advocate Unflinching Realness to anyone who wants more out of life, it is not for the faint of heart. Comparing yourself to your fantasy heroes, taking an honest look at where you are and how far you have to go, can be devastating. There have been periods of my life where I struggled with depression because I didn’t live up to my own standards, and envied some of my friends their comfortable, escapist lives.
But if I could go back ten years and tell my 13-year-old self one thing, it would be this:
It was worth it.