This week I received a (very) short email from my friend, Barry. Older Eyes, he said, where have you gone? I’ve been wondering that myself. I’d gotten used to him hanging around in the hallways of my mind, looking out through my older eyes for interesting things to write about. In a way, he is the best part of me, another way of saying something I’ve often said … I’m best on paper. I don’t know if that means that writing makes me a better person or that my writing skills make me sound better than I am. But I like myself better when he’s around, so perhaps the point is moot. Moot. What an odd word. No? Say it over and over a few times. Moot. Moot. Moot. See?
It has been a busy week with real engineering work to do (for money, part of the problem) so I didn’t have time to go looking for Older Eyes until last night, when I was lying awake in our too-hot bedroom unable to fall asleep. Might as well make use of the time productively, right? Wouldn’t you know that that’s another part of the problem? I found him slumped against the wall outside the double doors leading to my mind’s Scientific Wing. What are you doing here? I asked.
Nothing, he answered. You’ve been spending all your time in there. Except when you’re sitting around watching old movies.
I’ve always watched old movies, I said. And I’ve had a lot of work to do. And computer problems to go with it.
But you used to write while you were watching.
So, you’re mad because we’re not writing, I said.
I could care less, he whined.
Many people think depression means sadness but the classic symptom of depression is not caring about things that used to excite you. I wonder how many people have a depressed alter ego. How can you be depressed? I said. I’m taking my Prozac. Do I need to take two doses, one for me and one for you?
I’m not depressed, I’m bored. I keep giving you good ideas. But you don’t follow through and write them. In case you didn’t know, alter egos can be very good at ideas and come up with great prose but they can’t type. Or write. They need the Prime Ego for that, which they really resent. It makes them petulant.
I miss you. Suppose I commit to posting a couple of times a week, I said. Will that make you feel better?
It won’t make any difference, Older Eyes answered. You’re Free Running. No priorities. No schedule. If it doesn’t pay or feel like work, you skip it. Last week you spent two days speeding up your freaking internet and fixing computer problems no one else would even notice.
I considered telling him that he sounded like a disgruntled wife but I knew … he was onto me. Free Running has been the bane of my life and especially of my (semi) retirement. I flit from task to task, burying myself in whatever holds my attention at the moment. Work gets done. Some chores get done. But the things that don’t get done are the things that feed my soul. Like writing. And drawing. I end up drifting with a disgruntled alter ego in tow.
OK, I said. I’ll try to stop Free Running. We’ll write this as a post, just to show that I’m serious.
I’m listening. That’s a start.
OK, I’ll start doing Monday Smiles again, I said, trying to sound committed. We can post our old favorites for Throwback Thursday. We’ll post photos or art on day and music another. And at least one other post a week. Minimum.
Older Eyes pulled himself to his feet and we sauntered down the hall together toward the Creative Wing of my mind. There were cobwebs across the doorway that we brushed away as we entered. Welcome home, he said. Let’s do this. Publish this sucker.
And I did. Now comes the hard part. Discipline seems to get harder as I get older.