Billy's Thoughts

Sabbatical Notes #6: Is This It?

Posted on May 26, 2024 — 5 mins read

Writing my previous blog post took a lot out of me, to the point where I started looking forward to being done with the post halfway through the writing process. I’m glad I wrote it, but I’m also glad it’s over with. After publishing the post, I took a week off from writing. I still drew portrait studies and practiced the drums, but I filled the extra time with books, video games, and… just pondering what else to do. Which led me to thinking: what if I don’t get another blog post idea for weeks?

Is this just how the days will pass by?

When do I “make it”?

Is this it?

I was between writing projects. But I was, and still am, also squarely in the long middle of living the creative life I wanted and had chosen for myself, centered around:

  1. Developing more self-love and contentment
  2. Doing the creative work I love
  3. Doing what’s necessary to support 1 and 2

Maybe it’s because my direction is process-oriented (as opposed to results-oriented), and I’m realizing that that can be a bit… well… disorienting.

I don’t really have quantified long-term goals (just a couple of vague dreams). I’m not building any one single thing, like a business or a product. (Though in a sense you could say that I am the product.) I don’t have any sort of “roadmap”. I don’t know where I’ll be at the end of this year.

There’s no definitive finish line. I go, until I don’t want to go any more. Maybe I’m just in a liminal space between projects or story arcs, and I’m getting antsy and pensive. “I built X. Then I built Y. Then I built Z. Now what?”

Does this feeling go away when you have clear goals? (Does having clear goals mean you’ve figured all of this out for yourself already, enough to be able to form clear goals?) Or are clear goals just an illusion–am I actually just the one dangling the carrot in front of my own face to trick myself into motion, to some dreamed-up end? Will I immediately move the goalpost further ahead once I’ve reached it?

Life seems less complicated when you’re handed defined problems to solve by the world–it’s how the bulk of our early lives are structured, in school and work. “Do X by deadline Y, because we say so. And if you keep it up you’ll be on track to succeed in the next stage,” be it high school, college, getting a job, getting promoted, etc. This is much easier than, say, really paying attention to our internal self to pinpoint what we actually want and what brings us alive.

But I’m at the point in my life where I’ve learned that what the world tells me to do isn’t very aligned with what I actually want to do. Achieving some result isn’t going to make the empty feelings go away. Other people’s milestones may make us envious and get us thinking that that’s what we might want too. But they’re actually useful only as reference of what is possible, and not necessarily what will make you happy. You have to find your own path, based on your sense of Fun and where it takes you. As cliché as it sounds, the answers really do lie within; happiness is developed from within.

I return to this time and time again: the answer is internal, i.e. inside yourself and only yourself, and it’s different for everyone. How do you yourself relate to goals? What are you trying to do?

My questions “When do I ‘make it’?” and “Is this it?” are questions expectant of something. They’re demanding more. They believe that some future circumstance or result is going to appease me.
“Is this it? (There must be something else out there that’s more pleasing than this.)”

I. want. more.

And what this really gets back to, is not feeling content in the present. Feeling like I need something else, something to change or to be added or subtracted, in order to be happy.

I wrote most of the post above two weeks ago, before taking another break. I’d tried to wrap things up at that time, but I couldn’t find anything to say that I was happy with. It was all tense, grasping, effortful; or just full of platitudes that felt empty to me at the time. So I left this one out to air-dry.

I went outside. I talked with friends and new acquaintances. I took a separate 1-week break from lifting. I was able to relax a bit. The mind rests and resets, and the pendulum swings back the other way.

I remembered that this is why I want to do that internal work of developing more self-love. I was reminded that I believe that better is possible, and that I have faith in the process. And I remembered that the best I can do is just build what I enjoy building (and eventually do that in community).

I was reminded that: all there is is the present. Stress and worry come from thinking about some future state. But whether stress is present or not doesn’t change the fact that all you can do is do your best, now.

Do something today that you’ll be proud of when you go to bed. And then wake up and do it again. The rest is out of your hands.