2 min read


You can do anything. What do you do?

Well, okay, not anything, you can never do "anything." But a lot of things. Still. What do you do?

For myself, I find that often the answer is "back out." Escape to a smaller space. Often it's artificially smaller. Much, much smaller.

This has happened frequently across a lot of different activities. If I don't already have a topic or an idea when I sit down to write, I find my attention tends to slide away from writing. I'll soon find myself scanning Twitter, watching YouTube, skimming Reddit, or otherwise falling back on something with a smaller or easier decision space. Similarly, while I often enjoy open-ended games, I also tend to drop off of playing them. Eventually I reach a point where things get too open-ended or where I have created for myself a problem I don't want to solve and I stop. Factorio is like this for me; frequently Minecraft as well. I don't tend to have these problems with more closed-off games; where there are a discrete number of options I can just pick one. When I get spooked about openness, I tend to end up playing those instead.

Usually this feels like boredom. Not a lack of excitement, but an uneasy aimless dread. I don't know what to do. There is a sense of something wrong with that. There can be an unpleasant urge to freeze up, or to run or think in circles.

Why not just do something? The stress implies that just doing something might be worse than doing nothing. Actually, doing something arbitrary is often just fine; even if the something turns out not to be a thing you want to do, you can pretty quickly figure that out and get on a different track. Sometimes by doing a thing you even learn something that can inform your choice and break you out of the paralysis.

(This is sort of a variation on "the fastest way to learn something is to do something," except specialized to learning about what I want to do right now, which seems like kind of a weird case for learning. It's not not learning, though. Also you don't necessarily have to believe that the thing "will work"?)

Maybe I should try this tactic of "just do something" more often.

The discomfort seems like the kind of thing meditation should help with, and I think it has, some. I find myself going off track a little less often, anyway. There is still room for change in terms of the discomfort, or as the case may be, in terms of getting used to that kind of discomfort.