The Half Million Dollar Blog Post

As I enter the thirty-sixth year or so of my mid-life crisis, I find myself once again standing at a creative crossroads. I just finished reading this post, where (exactly) two years ago I decided to put Back to the Fridge on hiatus.

Before continuing, let me repeat a key part of that sentence. Two years ago. How is that even possible? I can remember a time in my life where two years lasted exactly two years. I think by my mid-twenties, two years lasted around eighteen months. By my early thirties, I was lucky if I could get it to last eleven months. Even with all the experience, though, none of that prepared me for the time now where two years passes in roughly nine days.

Sidebar. I’m nowhere alone. The sensation is virtually universal. And there is, indeed, a rational explanation for it, which I won’t bore you with here. (But if you’re curious, the short version is that the brain is incapable of storing time. So although you’re consciously aware of the fact that two years have passed, those years basically take up about the same amount of your brain’s quick-access memory as nine days does. That creates the illusion of speed.)

So there I was, “nine days” ago, talking about how I’d done all I could with this blog and how I needed to get on with my bucket list. And now look at me.

Ars Longa, Vita Brevis

For those unfamiliar with this phrase, I’ll spare you from a quick Google search. It’s typically and (in my opinion) almost too succinctly translated as, “Art is long, life is short.” I feel this misses the mark by a long shot. For one, art here doesn’t mean paintings, music, or what we might call fine art. In this sense, it’s a craft, skill, or technique. Think instead of, “The Art of _____.”

Perhaps that’s why I like Geoffrey Chaucer’s version more: “The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne.” In a few misspelled words, it sums up what so many humans have felt through the centuries: how it takes forever to truly master a skill, yet life flies by in a blink of an eye. And believe me, I have skills that need mastering and time is not slowing down one bit.

I suffer from a chronic case of productivitis. I have to be constantly producing something. This condition is often mistaken for a completely different affliction, workaholism, and certainly there are traits shared between the concepts. I think the distinguishing characteristic is that the workaholic just works to work. For me, I don’t want to work at all. I want to read books, watch television, and play games. However, those endeavors aren’t (in and of themselves) productive. I must have tangible output and it must have meaning to other human beings. If this isn’t happening, I’m miserable.

Two Years Later

So here I am, two years later. Granted, that whole chemo thing put a dent in my 2012 plans. But it also did something else to me. It turned up the heat on my productivitis condition. After all, the medical industry spent a half million dollars to drag me back from the brink.

I was acutely aware of this at the time and I clearly remember during my last chemo session thinking, “Wow, I really should make this all worth it.” If my life were a movie, that would have been the point where the music swelled and the audience got to experience a moving and emotional montage of me knocking off project after project after project.

Instead, here’s yet another blog post. Sigh.

Think Small

As we embark on a new year, every opportunity seems to open before us. With one turn of the calendar, we suddenly become empowered to do anything. We can lose that last twenty pounds. We can tackle those personal projects we’ve been putting off. We can even quit smoking crack and resign our post as mayor of Toronto. Anything is possible.

And I’ve fallen for that before. But this year, I thought of something else. Why devise such major, sweeping resolutions each January? Just try to better yourself one tiny little bit every single day. Isn’t that more doable and, in the end, much more satisfying? They say the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So take those steps, one at a time, and see where you end up. Even if you don’t make it the whole thousand miles, at least you won’t be standing still.

Just don’t forget to stop for fries along the way.

9 Responses to “The Half Million Dollar Blog Post”

Helen said
January 3, 2014 at 4:35 am

Seems along with your productivitis, your wisdomitis has turned on as well. This comes with getting olderitis and goes hand in hand with the speeding years.

Don’t say “just” a blog post. Your posts are good.

Anna said
January 3, 2014 at 6:08 am

I had more of a panic attack when you said somewhere you’d started BTTF 7 years ago?? That just didnt seem right. Is it really that long ago? Seems more right that I haven’t read one of your blogs for quite some time.

Anyway, yes, no massive resolutions here, just living it!

Happy New Year πŸ˜€

TexasDeb said
January 3, 2014 at 8:05 am

Maybe it is “just” a blog post but it packed a wallop.

I like your intention for the year. It sounds wonderfully doable.

Mine is to be more actively present in the here and now – to see who is in front of me and work within each moment rather than always lifting my eyes to try and see ahead…

Here’s to the next nine days!

Kristen said
January 3, 2014 at 9:14 am

I always thought that the reason time seems to speed up as I age is because my lifespan takes up all the time I can really comprehend, whether it is five years (when the concept of a “year” was 20% of my life and therefore extremely long) or it is 29 years (now, a year is only3.4% of my life).

And for what it’s worth, even if you don’t think your blog posts scratch that productivity itch or whatever, they add meaning to my day and are like rare little presents when they appear in my Feedly. Especially this gem.

    Charlie said
    January 3, 2014 at 9:38 am

    That’s actually another side to my theory of the brain being incapable of storing time duration. As far as that active, “quick-access” memory goes, it does much better with the most recent five years than anything before that. And, as you’ve so astutely observed: that becomes a much smaller and smaller percentage of your life. That also adds to that illusion of time speeding up.

    As for your last comment, thank you. πŸ™‚

    Now all I need to do is find another 999,999 people like you, and I’ll have it made.

    How many friends do you have?

Biz said
January 9, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Hi Charlie – I am way behind on my blog reading/emails, etc.

This was my favorite line:

“Even if you don’t make it the whole thousand miles, at least you won’t be standing still.”

While I fell off the wagon a bit with Tony in the hospital and being left alone with a pantry I didn’t give two shits about when he was home but suddenly thought “a cup of peanuts sounds good right about now!”

I agree that every step counts – I’ve tried to ditch the ALL or NOTHING mentality – who knows 2014 may be my year?

I love you! Love, your prettiest sister, Biz

Back to the Fridge » The Year in Review said
December 31, 2014 at 11:09 pm

[…] first blog post of the year had me doing exactly what I’m doing now: pondering life and bemoaning my lack of […]