This past week, Mr. X and I have both been suffering from what can only be described as Crises of the Existential Variety.
His moment of existential angst struck while he was climbing on the Stairmaster at the gym we recently joined. In that moment, all he could ask was, why? Why am I climbing the stairs to nowhere (any relation to the Bridge to Nowhere)? What is the point? He came home rather despondent about the greater questions that this Sisyphean challenge posed: what is the purpose of doing the same things over and over again, with no sense of progress or ending?
My moment of angst hit when I was pondering what to have for dinner a few nights ago. Nothing made my stomach grumble in anticipation – there was no item, either in the house or out of it, that would make me go, “I want to have that!” This may seem trivial to you, but to a gal who gets to splurge her points on dinner, it is a very important meal.
I’ve also been trying to minimize my booze intake – I usually have a lovely glass of wine with dinner pretty much each night, but now I’m trying to get it down to 2-3 times a week, which frankly is making me cranky. It’s not the alcohol I miss, as much as it is the sense of relaxation I get takinng that first sip of a nice glass of Rioja. So, dinner time has gone from one of my favorites to yet another part of the day when I have to be good. Blah.
I think it is safe to say that we are, the both us, utterly in a rut. Lather, rinse, repeat. That seems like all we do these days is repeat, repeat, repeat. Take the dog for a walk, feed the animals, go to work, come home, take the dog for a walk, feed the animals, go to bed. And, no matter what activities I try to think of that would make me want to break out of the rut, none of them really give me that push that I need.
On paper, I have a lot of things I want to do:
- projects to sew for Christmas presents;
- I’m still saying that I will cross-stitch and sew stockings for the animals for Christmas (not that they would care a lick), but the pattern I have is so cute and I can personalize them!
- I need to make the calendar of kitty pictures for my parents because if I don’t, they will disown me and we’re counting on the inheritance to fund our grand style of living (kidding people, kidding)
- I have until the end of the month to order our Christmas cards and get a ridiculous discount from Shutterfly
- so many books and magazines to read, including the four new titles I picked up for a song (ok $4.50) at the library book sale this past weekend including Bleak House, The Awakening, Portrait of a Lady, and The Thorn Birds (a girl needs her mind-candy, after all)
- work on the book
But, it all seems so trivial to me. Does any of it matter in the greater scheme of things? What is the purpose? I tried answering this question for Mr. X when he was trying to find a purpose for climbing stairs to nowhere. The easy answer is that it is exercise and that is good, but when you look at the end of the day and say, I climbed 50 stairs – does that mean anything? Anymore than saying I bought five pairs of shoes or I made six pies? It is the quantification of accomplishments that I think we’re getting hung up on rather than the purpose of those accomplishments.
I want to again feel the joy of doing things for the sake of doing them not because I think I should be doing them. So, the next time I ponder those Sisyphean stairs, I won’t think about it in terms of the accomplishment of climbing a specific number of stairs, but rather the pleasure I get in knowing I accomplished a goal that I set out to do. Isn’t that what we really try to do everyday?