I’m not one for prayer, but I’m learning to call on the One True God to get shit done.
Every email that I send, every renovation project I complete, even every — theoretically enjoyable — blog post that I write is a sacrificial lamb. The God of Productivity wants it all.
My god is not a kind god. He demands that I start writing this when my bedtime passes, to meet a deadline I chose to tie myself to. Failing to do so would result in guilt and shame at having mispleased him — rendering me even more incapable of meeting the next challenge.
My god is the god of efficiency. Doing something is not enough — it must be done expediently. Other goals fall by the wayside until I meet his needs (and then I find myself desperately picking up the pieces of underfed friendships and vending-machine dinners to return myself to fighting strength).
This works out in my favour when I use logic to argue that eight hours of sleep will make me more productive. When I find magazine articles stating that active leisure is the key to dynamism at work, or that Golden Age television stimulates critical thinking, or that running generates new neurons. He does want me to succeed.
How to reconcile this — the feeling of being controlled (even smothered) by my goals and the knowledge that pursuing them is my primary source of joy?
How to reconcile the push to jettison people and activities that get in the way with the realization that co-operating with others and spending time on them could be more efficient in the long run? Could make the work worthwhile?
How to work hard (hard Enough, good Enough, fast Enough) then shut it down at the end of the day?
How to be OK with taking a break?
How to be OK with the fact that I am in the process of inventing a religion to justify workaholism?
I find myself calling new gods into service.
The God of History, ruthless in her inexorable march.
The God of Magic, alerting me when someone’s looking my way and getting me back to my car just as the meter expires.
The twin gods of Reason and Emotion, grappling for pre-eminence but forever unable to speak each other’s languages.
The God of Addiction. Enough said.
It’s getting crowded in my brain with all of these contrivances. They speak over each other, the din obscuring any real transmission of knowledge from their world to mine.
Until suddenly it’s quiet. They rush to the sides to clear a path for — who? Who could so unite and divide the mess inside my head?
“I notice you used ‘he’ for the God of Productivity,” she says. “I don’t want to alarm you, but he looks a lot like your dad.”
“Oh wow, I can’t believe you were ‘inside me’ the whole time,” I say to Wise Mind. “That’s kind of creepy, when you think about it.”
That’s the kind of thing you can say to the One True God. No matter how badly I fuck up, I’ll be able to find her again. It’s no three clicks of the heels — it’s hard work, and goddamn if I don’t need Productivity, sometimes even to corral Reason and Emotion, to get back here — but as they say, good help is hard to find.
“I’m kind of sick of your BS,” she says. “But leave me your problems and go to bed. I’ll think on them for a while.”