That title comes from one of my favorite lines in Anne Tyler’s The Accidental Tourist.
“But his study was so dim and close, and it gave off the salty, inky smell of mental fidgeting. He walked in and felt overwhelmed by his task, as if chaos had finally triumphed. He turned around and walked out again.”
I have been experiencing a related phenomenon the past few days. It is not that I don’t feel like writing, though. It’s that I know I have a lot of other work to do and realize that if I make a determined effort to get that work done, I’ll be able to more consistently follow a writing discipline. While my logical mind knows this, however, other parts of my brain have mutinied and gained control.
In the next few weeks, I need to update a bathroom in our vacation rental property in Traverse City, Michigan, and I have to do a great deal of cleaning and landscaping work at home. Now that my father-in-law is in a skilled nursing facility, I need to fix up his house and get it rented to offset the costs and make his money last longer.
I start off most days pretty well and get quite a bit accomplished by early afternoon. Right now, I’m writing this short blog post, vacuuming the master bedroom, cooking spaghetti sauce, doing laundry and making beds. But then the daily mutiny occurs. I blame this on the binge watching I did while sick a few weeks ago. Even though I know better, I turn on the TV to watch a show while I eat lunch.
I’ve been watching NCIS or The West Wing on Netflix. Those shows are about 45 minutes long and generally my lunches don’t take that long to eat. Once I’m done eating, I try to sit down and watch the rest of the show, but since I know I should be doing other things, I decide to multitask. Unfortunately, it’s hard to vacuum or make beds or do laundry or write while there’s a show playing, so my multitasking the past few days has been overeating.
I’m smart enough to know what’s been going on, but it doesn’t mean that the logical part of my brain can regain control from the mutineers without a struggle.
The counterattack has begun though. I started running again yesterday and physical exercise makes me feel empowered. That feeling lasted for several hours until I ran into problems while trying to cancel my father-in-law’s cable television service and navigate through the murky waters of his Medicare and supplemental health insurance coverage. I turned the TV back on and binge watched until quite late last night.
Time to go. The washing machine is beeping at me and there’s a lot more vacuuming to do, but this has proved cathartic. It’s good to discover that spending a few minutes standing at the kitchen island and writing a blog post is likely the catalyst I need to bring me out of this rut. At least for the time being, I don’t feel like turning on the TV and I’m not hungry. We’ll see if that changes when I start cleaning the bathrooms.