In a position to invent my own responsibilities, and to realign them on whims, I don’t get very far. Even if I remain productive, it’s a fractured, diffuse, directionless kind of productivity, composed of many tiny islands, sealed in vacuums, free of context or import. Meanwhile, everything that I’m not doing screams with an urgency that what I am doing can never match. Being fucked with by the sparkly allure of things in my periphery, even the most worthwhile sparkly things, undermines all the effort.
Of course there’s always something arbitrary to how you choose to spend your time. Which is probably what a lot of people mean when they say they work well under pressure — it’s not the threat of a deadline that fosters productivity, it’s the conviction with which you act, knowing fully that this is exactly the correct investment of your time and energy. For the moment, you’re free of that responsibility, of choosing what to do, left only with the busy-work of doing it. And that’s a huge relief.
And the problem with having goals as ill-defined as mine is that there are no looming deadlines, only a vague understanding that this is going somewhere, eventually, assuming out of necessity that none of it is in vain. And worse, the gratification, the payoff, is not just delayed; that would make things a lot easier. It’s more than delayed, it’s practically invisible, the result of infinitesimal accumulations that never accelerate or burst with finality, but just collect like sediment, like that big jar of sub-quarter coins. And nobody would ever dream of working for that jar, much less ten jars. When you’re emptying your pockets at the end of the day, which jar do you choose?