Project Log 001 – 11 jul 22
Numbering entries is a naïve and optimistic dice-roll... but here goes
The work of my life, at the moment, appears to be centered around living and acting deliberately. I say “appears” because the more I try to do the Work of Life the more I realize I am discovering it rather than creating it. And like all white male explorers, “discovering” means “finding and realizing things that people who don't look like me embraced and celebrated long, long ago.”
Right now, this work is manifesting in:
Daily reading and study into spiritual systems, paths, and modes of thought, from a perch somewhere between skeptic and seeker. I am just starting this practice, mainly stemming from a desire to spend some daily(ish) time on “matters of the soul” – whatever that may mean. Right now that means re-reading one of my favorite nonfiction books, Huston Smith's “The World's Religions”. I read an utterly beleaguered, decades old, mass market copy of “The Religions of Man” as the book was known in the 70's, and inspired in me some spiritual exploration. I think I am hoping it does it again...
Abstracting my goals, desires, and pulls into the concept of “roles” I want to embody. I plan to write about this more at length soon. I'm not sure how much I'll get into the personal side of this, but the general idea is that rather than looking at my life as a list of tasks I want to do, or accomplishments I want to rack up, it has helped me to instead envision the archetypal (if only to me) roles, personas or... something close to a D&D class, that I want to embody and explore in my own context. Sounds weird – and it is – but it has also unlocked my brain in certain ways, giving me new and flexible ways to view my life and the things I want to do, and how that informs “the person I want to be”.
This way of looking at my life has also lent itself very well to other projects like...
Developing and iterating over a personal organization system. I learned long ago I will likely not succeed in a system created by someone else, but for a long time I thought that let me off the hook of having to put the work in to make one myself. I was wrong. I call this project The Planner, though it is not really a “planner” or “datebook” or “organizer” in the traditional sense. The Planner is the tool, or set of tools, I use to organize and manage my time, and to help me catalogue and prioritize what I want to focus on. When those things happen in concert, the Planner turns “time” from a vague, ephemeral substance to a finite, consumable resource, a fuel.
The difference between trying to Do Things without the Planner and with it is the difference between trying to get a Delorean up to 88 MPH in 1885 vs 2015. Without the Planner, to Do Things requires crazy contraptions, mad thinking, and completely impractical and ridiculously inefficient methods of propulsion best suited for singular, Hail Mary moments. With the Planner? I can throw any old junk in my reactor and jet around through time and space causing trouble all I want. AND I get a hover conversion.
(Wow this post has gone off the rails and right into Clint Eastwood Ravine...)
Or rather, this would all be true, if the Planner was actually a thing. Now it only exists as the platonic idea of the system I aspire too. But the working prototype I'm up to now is the best, most flexible version I've had yet. Integrating the “roles” concept above adds a narrative element to something usually heavy with charts, lists and flow charts. And lucky for me I love narrative elements AND flow charts.
Developing a practice of making/reflecting/recording...stuff. And things. Most of my life, I have wanted to create and communicate creatively with the world. I started out in theatre. In my adult life I have settled more into written expression, but that description feels... limiting. In fact for a long time my byline was “I like making things with words.” Which is true! Fiction, poetry, but also plays, and code, and zines, and essays, and letters, and... and...
These are things I would like to create, and I have an inconsistent archive (at best) of various attempts over the years. I have made a few Things I am quite proud of; but what I've never made is a practice of creating them. I can rise to the occasion of an assignment and deadline like nobody's business, but I've never been able to create those stakes for myself. In lieu of someone else's gun to my head, I need to find away to hold my own...
Nope. Not even going to go there.
Building the language and grammar to describe everything above. All of these projects I'm working on fit together and interact in ways that I'm not going to describe here, in part because I'm still discovering it myself. The questions I'm trying to answer, the practices I'm trying to start, they all swirl around the larger work of finding my place, my way – a project so big it has multiple times swallowed me up deep into its void only to toss my lightyears away, alone and disoriented. It's hard enough to keep my head above water when I can't even talk things through to myself without tripping over the words.
One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple
I've decided to stop waiting and make that day now. I need the right buckets to sort thoughts and meanings into and finding those buckets is so much harder than it sounds. But having that right word, it's not just a bucket, it's a handle, to pick up an idea and turn it into a tool.
And so part of this particular project is giving names to... all the projects. Which I did! Helpful!
At a high level, these are the things I am most excited about, the things – in a certain context – I want to invest my time and energy in, and the things that I believe will give my life meaning. So, I hope to keep a log of how all of these projects are going, what new projects they spawn, and any notable results from the lot of them.
I hope that this space can evolve to be so much more than a process log, but I would also be ecstatic if I maintain it even as just that for any length of time. A process log, perhaps more than anything I could do here, would embody my philosophy for this place, best summed up as:
What I write here is not my teaching, but my study; it is not a lesson for others, but for me. And yet it should not be held against me if I publish what I write. What is useful to me may also by accident be useful to another. Moreover, I am not spoiling anything, I am only using what is mine. And if I play the fool, it is at my expense and without harm to anyone. For it is a folly that will die with me, and will have no consequences.
— Montaigne, by way of Warren Ellis
Here's to no consequences...