Seven: Intent

This winter solstice, I’ve been ruminating on the year behind and ahead. That’s half true. I’ve been in this headspace a lot longer than today, but today is when I’m pouring out the percolated sludge after leaving it brewing, so let’s call it a solstice meditation. I spend most of my time in either a reactive or inactive space, ready for action on input, but when input doesn’t come, the next move rarely self-activates. I’m good on my feet. I’m GREAT on my feet. I thrive brainstorming a research project for someone else or discussing the potential logistics of an upcoming project. I can spin up an ad hoc literature review for a throw-away comment on a Discord channel or improvise a library class session without knowing anything about the assignment or topics ahead of time. But whatever happens before or after this state is either anxious anticipation or anxious absence.

Where I routinely fall short is in spaces requiring intentionality. I have a full mental block to starting something I can’t necessarily finish in that sitting or resuming something I didn’t quite wrap up on the first pass. When the idea doesn’t emerge fully-formed (or close enough) my dropoff rate is exquisite. Blogs die, research projects falter, commitments linger and stall and my guess is my outward perception becomes kinda flaky. Good dude for the most part, but don’t trust him with a deadline.

More than procrastination, more than executive dysfunction, this is an issue of discipline. The practice I’ve done and the muscles I’ve built have prepared me to quickly and sharply respond in the moment as a means of problem solving. And I’ve reinforced these skills with justifications—”I’m not NOT working, I’m percolating”—and by procrastinating to the point of no other option. Back against the wall, I’ll get the thing done in a single sitting, but I lack the slow and methodical, the brick-by-brick construction that requires repetition and persistence. So that’s what I intend to work on this upcoming year.

Last year was the Year Of The Physical Object. I wanted to make some things, some artifacts to show for my varied hobbies and interests, and I’m calling it a success. Resolution achieved. This year will be the Year Of Intentional Discipline. Routine-building and practice. Explicitly NOT arbitrary deadlines; I know well enough those roll off of me like marbles. It’s easy enough for me to get up every morning and make the coffee. A few extra minutes, a hundred words or so, doesn’t seem so rough. Getting used to working in pieces rather than slabs. It may not wind up being better at first, the neurons connecting anew, but it will come from a place of intent. If I can do that, I can write up a goddamn research paper.