Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Always Opt For "Manic"

I've had a challenging couple of weeks. SIGA, my beloved (and super-slowly unfolding) biotech investment has plummeted to under $8, for reasons described here. My paper losses are off the hook, though I'm as hopeful about the long term prospects as ever. And I  learned owning one's own home means either 1.watering plants, or 2. seeing plants die. I hadn't factored that in, and so I've unexpectedly found myself a resentful slave to hoses and sprinklers. And I lost the smart keycard for my car (no fancy ride, just a regular old Mazda), and the dealer wanted $800 - not a typo! - to replace it. I spent weeks unable to drive it, while ransacking my place in futile effort to find the damned thing. I developed, weirdly suddenly, "old guy" eyes; all of a sudden I can't read without removing my glasses. And, the heat wave knocked me, like many people, into a semi-fugue state. Lastly, there was friction with a couple of the folks managing my old web site; perhaps the final chapter of an old woeful saga many of you have been following along.

I don't reset swiftly. As negatives aggregate, I feel more and more weighed down. Add in a few errant everyday slings and arrows, and my usual reaction is to pull inward - to hunker down for a day or two, until, bored and restless, I zestfully return to the outer world.

This time, I tried something new. Instead of shutting down, I opened the throttle and went all "Martha Stewart". I tore fiercely through my long-stalled to-do list. In about eight hours, I snaked through DMV, resolved an insurance issue, trimmed an enormous hedge, took my car for a tune-up, had a business meeting, tracked down and bought a lead sash weight (discovering three very promising Dominican luncheonettes en route), sent a few dozen emails, walked a couple miles, 
watered those goddam plants, and helped a stranger work out the (actually quite sensible) root of his obsession with UFO's.*

I blasted through it all with great manic brio, but also quite a bit of agitation. I can't say it was a pleasant day, but a manic day of jittery mega accomplishment certainly leaves one feeling much better than a depressed day of numb retraction.

Loch Kelly, a brilliant teacher of an esoteric school of Buddhism called Dzogchen, says that the world is so crazy-making that sanity's really not an option. One can either be goaded up into anxiety, or else numbed down into depression. The third option, pursued by a nerdy few, is to drop into clarity. On a good day, I can manage some clarity. But on bad days, when I get caught up in it all, I'm starting to suspect that anxiety may be the better option.

* - and wrote this breathless Slog entry.


alyce said...

I'm having a challenging week too. On your recommendation (and logic), I'll try for anxiety tomorrow.

Jim Leff said...

Good luck. Please report back.

But please don't think you can plan this in advance. It's got to be an in-the-moment sense of rocket-fueled catharsis. A tooth-grinding, eye narrowing determination to simply DO stuff to drown out the aggravation and disappointment. The brain can't loop on bad stuff if you keep the body busy.

It's never been my style. But I gotta admit, it beats the alternative.

alyce said...

Got it. Am ginning up some tooth-grinding, eye-narrowing get-up-&-go right now. Thanks.

Jim Leff said...

Go easy on the gin if you actually want to get anything done!

(Kidding. Actually, I love the term "ginning up"!)

Blog Archive