Life gets at you. It sucker punches you good when you’ve got your head turned. Like, bobs to the left, razor-cuts you up the centre, slips to the right and surprises you with a solid right hook leaving you seeing stars and wondering just what happened. It doesn’t stop, though. The beat-down just keeps coming and coming until you can stagger backwards, pushed against a wall, fending off the blows until you can sneak a look at what’s coming at you.
The past few weeks – let’s be real and admit it’s the past few months – have been a blur. Months of my life just… gone. I know stuff happened. I was there. I can tell by emails and the like, and considering that I’m still mobile.
I’ve been burning out, slamming down several Monster cans every day, hammering out code like there’s no tomorrow. So many times I felt there would be no tomorrow. I can’t say what has gone on, not without breaking some code of conduct rules. Suffice it to say I got hit with a tsunami at work, an avalanche at home and an earthquake financially. They say things come in threes so, by that logic, I should be good. Now.
From all of this, I can see that there are lessons to be learnt, or re-learnt as the case may be.
Face up to it
Stuff breaks. You fail. Bad guys are waiting around the corner. You don’t see the Abyss until you’ve dropped off the ledge and find yourself swimming out in open water above its gaping maw. Then you understand, as the cold current washes up from its foul belly, just how much it wants you. The prospect of looking into the maw of madness is terrifying, yet it has to be done. Facing up to the reality of the situation breaks through the fear.
Being prepared is one thing, but you can’t be prepared for every event. So open your eyes. Dare to look. That’s when reactions kick in. If you are paralysed with fear, it you cannot move because to do so would mean committing to a course of action that might cause more pain, more anxiety, then you will be lost. Yes, there’s pain. Yes, there’s a cost to it all, but what are the options? Stay as you are, frozen in terror, and let the Abyss have its way with you? Slowly. Agonizingly. Dragging you down until you have no will to fight left.
Make a Bloody Decision
With the clouds of chaos swirling around your head, the voices barking at you and screaming for your attention, it’s only too easy to let someone else take the wheel while you hide and wait for it to all be over. But by giving up your power, however little it is, you have no control over your destination. So you could make the wrong decision. So it could all turn to crap. Granted. Is that any worse than doing nothing? Perhaps. I’ll bet not, but perhaps. But perhaps you could make the right one. The perfect one. An amazing guess. With all the chaos around you, it’s unlikely, but it’s worth a punt. Besides, you could make a decision that isn’t so bad, one that’s not perfect, but puts you in a better spot than before. That’s a positive thought. That’s worth a punt.
Besides, it’s not like you’re spinning a wheel. You’re educated. You have agency. You can’t predict the future but you know the past. You know the alternative outcomes might be and how horrifying they are. Anything less than that is a step in the right direction.
Are you breathing? Good, then you’re still alive and if you’re still alive you aren’t licked. You know pain is coming, it’s already here, isn’t it? It is, so stop pretending. It will only get worse the longer you delay. Focus. Laser-focus. Distractions be damned! Fix a problem. Yes, there are many, many problems and they are all urgent and important, so pick one. Prioritize it and pick it. Then fix it. Make a change. Then move onto the next. Muscle through the exhaustion, relentlessly grind, squeeze every last drop you can from your muscles, from your brain.
You’re tired, too tired for words. Too tired for fun or for relaxation or for pleasantries. But you can still move, and move you must. Onward and upward. If not upward, at least onward. If not onward, at least further from chaos, further from Hell.
It doesn’t stop. It can’t stop. The pressure will ease, it will, but you cannot decide when or for how long. Take the time to rest when you can, move when you must, prepare for the inevitable collapse of your plans and the stench of failure that comes with it. Confront, Decide, Move. Again. Again. Again.
Any downtime is preparation time. Make it easier on yourself any way you can. Spend five minutes now to save an hour later. Sleep can wait, unless you’re making mistakes, in which case accept fatigue, accept a bed or a couch or the floor. Whatever is handy, whatever gets you over that hump. Then wake up and get back to it.
Again. Again. Again.