It’s a rainy and cold Saturday here in Vienna. Faced with endless stacks of work, it’s the kind of day that I just want to watch back-to-back Anthony Bourdain “No Reservations” shows and eat stuff that is bad for me, unshaven, wearing my raggedy-ass black sweatshirt.
Yes, I am having a discipline crisis.
Like most of you, my work is demanding. I work every day. If I don’t, I easily and quickly fall behind.
I chose this path, the road Les traveled, if you will. Maintaining the pace requires strict discipline. I usually do pretty well in the discipline department, but there are days when I would just as soon goof off and spend the day in mindless frivolity.
I remind myself that what I do is not difficult physical work, like coal mining. But sometimes simple, even difficult physical work, allows you to suspend your mind and exercise your body. My work is not like that. Everything requires precise thought, planning, and execution on deadline. It’s all mental. That can be much more tiring than physical work.
It is relentless. For those of us who do work like this, it never seems to be finished. With some physical work, like building a wall or clipping a pasture, you can finish it and look back at the completed work. Mind work is seldom like that. It seems to never be quite finished. There is always an improvement to be made, some random embellishment that makes the work better.
And on and on it goes. A good example is the literature review for my dissertation. Having finished a first draft, I must continue to refine it. In truth, it will never really be finished. The research will continue, and the writing will be a regular part of my life.
Lao Tzu said, “A journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step.” The way I see it, the statement should be, “A journey begins with one step, but take your lunch because it ain’t gonna end anytime soon.”