I am completely and probably irreversibly blocked right now after reading a book about blogging, which says what one wants to write is not what others want to read. It sounds really true. Just think about our own life experiences–what we really want to say is often not what other people want to hear. The problem is that when I start to think about writing things that others want to read, I am completely lost, blocked, and dispirited. It feels like back in school again when I had to write to please the teachers, to make them feel good about themselves educating others. Most of my writing in school is nothing more than a chore to me. Thankfully, I studied science and the writing part was really not the main feature. Still, the limited writing I was involved at the time was bad enough to make the remembrance of it discouraging.
So I did my laundry instead, which has never felt so relaxing before. No inspiration from Marie Kondo is needed; no weekend “chore ethics” is required; no admiration for my grandma, the domestic goddess, is recalled. Suddenly folding laundry is comforting since at least this is something I can accomplish, better than the other option. Our enjoyment depends not only on our real preferences, but also on the available choices.
This has often happened and I don’t know why. Whenever I read a self help book to motivate myself, I feel bad and sad. What’s even worse is that I assume that other people must have been motivated by the book while I am the only one left out. Am I impervious to inspiration and motivation? Not really. I can recall at least several instances for which I was really motivated. Let’s just say my threshold for activation is probably higher and there’s a bigger amount of inertia in me to be overcome first.
We do something and read some books, expecting a certain result. However sometimes what you get is a backfire, completely the opposite of what you expected. I am not talking about a competition or an election, for which there’s a clear winner and a clear loser. You sort of expect certain possibility of winning and losing, unless you are somebody who’s unscrupulously and unabashedly overestimating yourself. Well, I am talking about those instances like what’s described in an old fable:
A man loves the mystical creature of a famed water dragon and makes his home a shrine to it by painting his wall with dragon mural and dressing in clothes with painted dragon figures. So the water dragon hears about this fan and comes to his house for a visit. When the dragon arrives, the man runs away as fast as he can.
It turns out that the most unexpected thing is one’s own psychology. One just can’t take it anymore.