I have $800 in work-related travel costs that I should be writing a claim for instead of typing these words. I’ve been putting off sending this expense claim in for weeks. The charges were on my Visa bill, but I paid them with my own dwindling money supply – now I just need to get my money back.
For some reason, it’s like performing an auto-appendectomy. Trying to fill in this little Excel sheet to claim these expenses arouses more avoidance than almost any prospect of torture. If the British bastard from ISIL came along right now and offered to cut my head off for God, I’d probably say Allahu akbar and help him set up the cameras. Any diversion will do.
This isn’t a new thing for me, and it’s not just about expenses. The more dutiful and formulaic the action is, the more the kittycat inside my brain avoids it like a great big pill. Applying for project money is another process that the kitty absolutely loathes, even though that sort of soft funding is the main source of lubrication for much of what I do these days. Luckily, there are other people who can help work up those proposals – but expense claims must be done in eerie solitude.
I confess I once went from North America to Torino, Italy, as an invited speaker, and never got around to claiming my travel expenses. The hotel room was prepaid, luckily, but the plane fare came out of my body and soul, my incomprehensible body and soul.
It’s always amusing to see how one’s self-help knowledge can do so little to assist one in these situations. As someone with a long-pursued interest in psychology and philosophy, I’ve read many self-help books and could easily write one. I understand bootstrapping and confidence so well that I could probably write the self-help book to end all self-help books, the ummah-al-self-help (that’s ‘mother of all self help’ for those who don’t procrastinate by learning to speak ISIL). But there’s no literary kick, or even a comprehension kick, that can actually make the brain-cat take the brain pill. It still says, gack, gack, gack, and spits it out. It’s too primitive to be moved by knowledge.
When I was young, fear used to be a great motivator, but now I just look at dread and wave my tail. A good part of my mind would rather starve than eat my medicine.
It makes no sense at all.
And yet, everything has to make sense somehow. We wouldn’t do things if it weren’t for a reason. So, out of all those self-help materials and studies and exhortations, I’ve drawn a sketch of what’s going on.
I call it ‘inspiression.’ That’s the fusion of ‘inspiration’ and ‘depression.’ My sudden insight is that creative people can be depressed, and yet not seem to be so, because they have sources of inspiration that are so strong that the hallelujah of creativity can cut through the depressive background. People like me can be blazing comets of inspiration travelling through the void of the rest of their lives. The rest of the cosmos can fall to primordial dust as long as the bright light moves forward.
I’m fine as long as I’m working on something that really inspires me. I’ve written a science fiction trilogy – and a very optimistic one at that – and am half way through a non-fiction book on a topic that delights me. I have scientific data that can be written up as papers I would be proud of, and I have no problem working on those things. My problem is everything else, the attendant details, the slog of real life. If I’m not right at the apex of making the world a better or more interesting place, I’m non-functional.
It’s as if your heart was great at pumping blood out, but your veins couldn’t be bothered to bring it back in.
Must one take drugs, these days, to treat ‘inspiression’? Or is there a way to spontaneously recover and have a well-ordered, homeostatic life? Do we need to have partners to nag us with common sense? I have one who’s good for that, and I do it for him, too, even though I think we share different versions of this same mental health issue. He’s virtually stopped working for pay and only has time for glorious, spectacular household renovations, funded largely by credit. He’s an inspired man.
We need a new academic specialty in this world, a department of Inspiression Studies. Maybe the right grad student projects could have saved Robin Williams and all the other illuminati – and here I mean the truly illuminated, not the conspiracy phantasms – who fell to suicide or drugs or alcohol or relationship tragedies, even though they could burn with enthusiasm and make us all laugh or cry.
I think this revelation should help those who experience inspiration to avoid fooling themselves about the reality of depression. Although, again, to deal with that kind of embarrassing health issue is such a slog. Kitty says no, no, no.
Testify, bloggers, if you have any experience of this.
In the meantime, I have an expense account to fill in. God help me. Allahu akbar.