Some Who Wonder Are Lost

After spending some time wandering, it was time to come back.

It’s very easy to romanticize going wherever the winds take me, and there can be value in that sometimes. At the same time, the why matters. While I’d hoped to get some clarity about things, and in particular about where I want to be going, what I’ve come to realize is that I was actually avoiding choice.

Choice is difficult. But it wasn’t about realizing that not making a choice is, itself a form of making a choice. I wasn’t not making choices, I was just not thinking about them, not trying to discern why I made them or what I hoped to gain (or avoid). Instead, I’d feel myself resist something and let that be the end of it. I didn’t really know what questions to ask, and just assumed that there couldn’t be anything underlying the feelings I would have.

With more time and some outside help, I’ve begun to pick apart why I function the way I do; why I bounce, why I have a hard time starting things I’m not actively excited about, why I almost never finish anything. I still have a long way to go, but ironically it’s focusing on smaller-scale that has allowed me to better understand the larger.

[ – – – ]

I’ve been thinking about tools lately. It occurred to me when I first joined the tildeverse that here I was, signing up for another website. It could just as easily have bene downloading some other app, bookmarking some other software library or documentation. I’ve long believed that tools are value-neutral, and I still think that’s true. But the other thing about tools is that they have a way of demanding use.

Tools also carry a prestige with them. “This isn’t for beginners” and all that. Even with things that are relatively accessible, there’s a certain posturing that comes with talking about how we use a thing to do something. There’s something undeniably alluring about the stereotype of the loner-savant, sitting in the darkened workshop or in front of a computer screen. I’m not really talking about the inevitable fears of how some new thing will be abused (whether unfounded or not, which varies), and am instead thinking about the more prosaic way this can get us into trouble.

Strangely, mine has been introspection. Not because I shouldn’t be doing it, rather because I haven’t been paying attention to the how. Thanks to ADHD, I hit plenty of walls in my daily life, whether that be resisting getting stared, resisting stopping, resisting changing what I’m doing, or resisting not changing what I’m doing. Any of these can happen at any given time, and the result is a serious feeling of being out of control (hence the “drifting” I referenced earlier). Of course, this is only compounded by the more existential question of how much we really have control over our lives when we’re so often subject to the whims of the powerful and the innate laws of the universe.

The best I’ve been able to do so far is slow down a little, and try to see that inertia with a given thing isn’t the atmos; I have to figure out what causes it instead, what pieces make it up. Sometimes it’s fear of missing out (or a case of comparing myself too much with others), others it’s just plain ol’ executive functioning (or a lack thereof). It’s useful, though, to continue on one train of thought rather than letting myself branch too much, which is far more natural for me (as if this weren’t already obvious from my writing style). Rather than going around in circles, I end up fractaling off into the void.

I also have some accepting to do. One is to accept that some things are just plain going to be harder than I want them to, and that my walls of difficulty may not be where I expect. It’s unfortunately easy to see these walls in “simpler” tasks, which in turn makes me feel a lot less capable. I also have to give up on this idea of seeking out some silver lining to my neurodivergency. This question, i.e. what I “gain” from my particular brand of miswiring, is ultimately unanswerable: even if I weren’t terrible at recognizing my own strengths (or at least describing them in a way that’s meaningful to me), there’s no way to say that some arbitrary attribute would or wouldn’t be present if I didn’t meet some diagnosis or another. It is frustrating, though, both because I would like to have there be some positive that I could associate with the parts of me that I don’t like, and because I tend to focus on those negatives regardless. So it’d be nice if I had some way to balance them out, rather than feel like I’ve been working with a handicap my whole life.

Returning to the issue of tools, the ironic thing is that I tend to seek out things to help make me more organized, but I end up with so many that I’m just shifting where the organization happens. I have two text editors open right now: iA Writer, in which I’m writing this post, and Textmate, which I use for coding. I also have Obsidian running, and just downloaded Logseq to see if I like that better. This isn’t counting the two other fancy word processors I have (Pages and Scrivener). I collect development frameworks and programming languages just as quickly, and only get part way into a project before I start thinking about refactoring. It’s amazing how much effort I can throw out there only to not actually go anywhere.

A lyric from an old KMFDM song has haunted me for years:

But you’re terrified you have nothing to offer this world Nothing to say and no way to say it But you can say it in three languages

Difficulty getting started, whether it’s a symptom of some issue with neurodivergence or more normal forms of procrastination, is a funny thing. It’s always obvious what we’re avoiding, as long as we don’t look past the task itself. One of the things I’m having to start asking myself, though, is what it is I’m really afraid of.