I don’t know what it is, but my brain is feeling completely scattered. I’m having a hard time finding either focus or motivation. Something has me off-kilter. The best I can tell is there’s a sharp disconnect between knowing what I want and need to do and being able to sit and focus and finish those things out. It’s as though the hopper is full, but the feeder is jammed. So here I am writing about it, hoping to clear things out and get things moving again.

I feel like this is a typical feeling for me this time of year. The nicening of the Minnesota weather creating a desire to be out and about, save for the second, third- and fourth-times winter tries to make a comeback. I’m itching to get out and do the things that need to be done to the house, the yard and the cars in addition to taking my cardio routine out-of-doors, but at the moment am at a point of waiting for the weather to turn pleasant.

Another aspect is more existential. My birthday was this week and while the last few have been good; I’m finding myself back at a point of wondering if I’m on the right path. I think I am for the most part. I have an awesome girlfriend and ENM dating situation, my kids are thriving and there’s a lot to look forward to. Still, I can’t help but wonder if things are headed the right way in the longer term. Am I living with enough purpose, etc.? I don’t know. I know it’s okay to not know, but it’s still a struggle and disruptive of the centered peacefulness I’m craving.

Perhaps its ultimately this desire to be centered and peaceful that’s being shaken lately. I’m finding myself thinking too much on the future, that veiled cloudy road ahead, and not on what I need to be doing in the moment. Maybe this is the main struggle? If so, what then are the main detractors from getting back into that centered groove? What aspects of the future am I preoccupying myself with that I need to work on letting go of?

I think one big stressor lately is world events. This is really the thing many of us hear the most about that we can do the least about. I can’t really go fight in ukraine or find an ultimate Covid cure. The best I can do is donate a little money and vote when possible. I can also pray, hope, meditate, etc. Some of that may be to the “Serenity Prayer” and realizing there’s only so much that can be done and so the mental energy put in needs to scale with that. Worrying never solves a thing and there will always be tension and things to worry about in the world

There are also a number of stressors that are more local and personal to me. The first is probably more financial than anything. I’ve been finding myself spending a bit more lately. Coordinating getting stuff paid for has been weighing heavier on my mind lately. This is likely a common theme coming off the holidays and needing to square-up the budget just in time for tax season. Things are ultimately fine. In fact, I just did my taxes and am getting a little money back; making for one less thing to worry about. Also, I knew/planned on some of the expenses last year. It is now just time to “pay the piper”. It is also important to take the time to look at the budget and trim wherever possible.

Another is, while my ENM dating situation is going well, there are some interpersonal aspects that need more attention than I would like. I have decided to stop seeing one person, but am attempting my girlfriend’s approach of “fading away”. That leaves some stress and uncertainty for me. As much as I hate using the more brutal “chopping block” approach, it does ultimately yield a satisfying finality. There is also someone else I’m dating who I really like. My girlfriend does pick up on this vibe and it makes some of the discussion a challenge, particularly when there are schedule overlaps and having some “asks”. One such ask was for a Friday night date. Actually, the ask went better than anticipated, still there was a lot of worry about how it would be taken. Previous discussions had a lot of tears, but also a lot of love and passion. In fact, that is one of the things I really enjoy about ENM; the open and vulnerable communication inherent in the negotiating of dates and working with feelings creates a large amount of closeness. Also, to feedback into the previous paragraph, dating and going out can get spendy so it’s good to find inexpensive, fun things to do…besides sex.

Turning from money and love, there is additional future worry from having been approached for a new job opportunity. An opportunity that would still be doing some cool technology stuff but would take me away from my core expertise of “tiny magnets”. I recall only a few months ago of making a conscientious decision to be content in my current position. However, I was approached by a colleague about this opportunity and the flattery and some of the promise in the new gig makes it hard to turn away from. Ultimately, I think I’m more expensive than what they are looking for and if I’m not, I’ll be also using it as a negotiation tool in my current job.

Maybe it’s partially the fear of the potential negotiation/interaction that I’m also stressing about? I am finding myself a highly relational person, who frets about interactions. I even have imaginarily perceived arguments on the way to family events. Obviously, these never materialize, but the defensive preparations get in the way of being centered as well. The big question likely is why am I having these thoughts/preparations? It would also stand to reason that future interactions with bigger stakes result in bigger perceived argument and more clouding of my brain. Why can’t I just be matter of fact and not make any assumptions? A work change would be “just business” at the end of the day and most parties would understand that. Perhaps this approval need has crept back in a bit more and needs to be pushed back into a healthier place? Fortunately, I’m starting to work on this a little with my therapist and can hopefully get some resolution before it results in hyper-defensiveness and even unintended burned bridges.

Lastly, I’m also experiencing the challenge of the future in wanting to accomplish a lot of things while toiling with the inertia of getting started and building momentum. I recently was able to start traveling for work and fun again. One of those trips was to a conference in New Orleans. While there I started salivating over being able to use the kind of technology I work on for new computing techniques, so-called neuromorphic computing. I’ve now read a ton of papers and am working on a business plan and looking at various funding approaches. However, this energy is hard to keep up. Especially in the context of all the other good things happening at work, i.e. we have multiple programs starting up for challenge the state-of-the-art for magnetic sensing. This is now a mind-over-matter challenge to keep the momentum going. My thoughts keep going to “if only I had…” and “why can’t we hire another…”. As much as I want to point the finger at the “powers that be” for keeping me back, I’m not powerless. I need to find the time and keep making the argument for doing more hiring. I need to build the cases for the opportunity and I ultimately need to get the funding which enables the additional hiring. I can do this. I have done this. I even recall that it’s a “spiritual journey” of sorts to get proposals written and to find funding. Maybe in this pursuit I’m going to find it’s not worth it, but there’s still enough drive to want to see it through at the moment.

So maybe that’s it. 1,300 words later there’s some sense that it’s not really what is and has to happen, but merely the perception of resulting interactions that bogs my brain down along with the needing to maintain some drive for what I’m really excited about. All the fear of people being angry or disappointed or combative with me is some imaginary figment, some manifestation of a younger me’s survival skills. The perceptions only create cloudiness in my brain and prevent me from getting done what’s important in the moment.

I’m glad I took the time to write about it, to sort myself out. Writing usually has me feeling better, it’s something I need to take the time to do more of. It helps me sort out my thoughts and get at what’s really important, but now it’s time to take my refocused view and get back to “it”.