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July 23, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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Things You Already Know But Just Need To Be Told

What To Do When You Can’t DO Anything

“Only boring people get bored.”—People who feel the need to fill their lives with needless noise and movement to distract themselves from the echoing, desperate sadness inside themselves.

Everything is overwhelming. Sometimes it just seems that you’re overcommitted, but then you think of the days where you only have one or two things to do. Those days can be just as bad. Going to the post office before it closes can be equally as arduous as spewing out a 3,500-word essay the day after it was due. Life feels like it’s full of blocks. Invisible walls stopping you from just getting everything done.

It’s that really distinct feeling that, as far as I can tell, doesn’t have a name. That one that almost always leads into procrastination or fear but isn’t either of those things. That direct facing down of a task knowing that you have to do it, can do it, should do it, have the time to do it, but you don’t. There is no reason not to. You just don’t. It’s this odd paralysis, the eerie status. You know it, right? I can be about something as small as brushing your teeth or as big as major shifts in lifestyle or proper important deadlines. The feeling doesn’t change with the scale of the task.

It is so easy to say ‘well, just do it.’ You know you need to move, so go. Just go. People will tell you these things, how you need to just bite the bullet and get on with it. They don’t understand just how bad, how hard it is. This goes beyond something that can be Just Done. This is something that is… Well, it’s this sentence right here. I was going really well on this column, kinda powering through it and then I hit ‘Just Done’ and then—Nothing. I just sat there. Well, here. And stared at the 279 words I already had—Almost halfway! Halfway to the cigarette of victory!—and thought about how I should really write some more.

I thought really hard about how I should finish it. How if I knock this off quick smart then I’ll have a free hour to go buy some
new shoes. (I need new shoes, I do not want them.) I listened to the hideous tinny sound system of the backpackers I’m sitting in—long, boring story—play fuzzy mid-career Bob Dylan drowning out the chippy chit-chat of a cluster of under-20 Irish wankers talking about women they’ve degraded and I thought about how the movie of Cowboy Bebop would have been much better if the English version had kept the Japanese subtitle; Knock Knock Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door and that made me think about all the things I won’t achieve before I die and that made me think about how I should really really really write the next sentence of this column.

But I still didn’t. I knew I should. I knew what I was going to say. I knew how I was going to say it but… I just couldn’t. I considered going away and coming back to it but I knew not finishing would poison everything until it was done. And still I just sat. The blink of the cursor in Open Office mocking me. Blink blink blink. Should should should. Can’t can’t can’t. Blink blink blink. So, do you know what I did?

I didn’t ‘Just Do It’. I strained and gurned and wasted more time. The hour of lovely free time I would have had disappeared and fearing having nothing to show for it I added the ‘This is something that is…’ Thinking that would be good enough to inspire me the next day when I came back to it to finish it. But then the rest just started to follow. And you got the previous few paragraphs of bland meta-textual overly-autobiographical dribble that stands as a platonic ideal of the abundant lows of student journalism. Sorry about that.

It’s not about Just Doing It. It’s about getting all the Not Doing out of your system first. Life is a practice, doing is a practice so the opposite of that must be one too. Don’t feel guilty for not doing something, just wait for yourself to be ready. Boredom is good, don’t ruin it with stress.

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About the Author ()

Uther was one of the two arts editors in 2009. He was the horoscopier and theatre writer in 2010. Alongside Elle Hunt, Uther was coeditor in 2011.

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