On my burnout
I’ve said a lot about depression, self-compassion, and breakup blues.
I haven’t said much about burnout. I have that too. Have had for years, in fact.
This is just the first time that I’ve had a chance to stop and heal.
I did a day of work last week, the first one I’ve done since the end of November. It went well. It felt good. So I thought I would try to get a full week’s worth of work done.
Then I basically crashed again.
Sometimes, your skin feels sensitive and raw. Everything is, not if outright painful, then at least unpleasant to touch.
That’s how I feel today, and on a lot of days. Except that the skin is my mind, and the things that I touch are thoughts about things to be done.
Goals. Obligations. Future calendar entries. But even things like a computer game I was thinking of playing, or a Facebook comment I’m thinking of replying to. Anything that I need to keep track of, touches against that rawness in my mind.
That’s another big part of why I’ve been so focused on self-compassion recently. On being okay with not getting anything done. On taking pleasure from just being present. On enjoying little, ordinary things. Because that’s all I have, on moments like this.
I’m getting better. There are fewer days like this. There are many days when I’m actually happy, enjoying it when I do things.
But I’m still not quite recovered. And I need to be careful not to forget that, lest I push myself so much that I crash again.
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"Back when I was reading LOTR in Russian, I remember fans arguing over the issue of whether Aragorn wore pants (or rather, using the British term, trousers), or not - what I later learned was a major topic of discussion in Soviet Tolkien fandom. The typical argument for "not" was that the book text never mentions pants"
Does Aragorn wear pants?
Pulp-era (1920s-1950s) science fiction wasn't any more about optimistic futures than today's science fiction is:
> Optimistic futures were always, always vastly outnumbered by end of the world stories with mutants, Frankenstein creations that turn against us, murderous robot rebellions, terrifying alien invasions, and atomic horror. People don’t change. Then as now, we were more interested in hearing about how it could all go wrong.
> To quote H.L. Gold, editor of Galaxy Science Fiction, in 1952:
> > “Over 90% of stories submitted to Galaxy Science Fiction still nag away at atomic, hydrogen and bacteriological war, the post atomic world, reversion to barbarism, mutant children killed because they have only ten toes and fingers instead of twelve….the temptation is strong to write, ‘look, fellers, the end isn’t here yet.’”
Other common myths:
> “Pulp scifi often featured muscular, large-chinned, womanizing main characters.”
> “Pulp Era Scifi were mainly action/adventure stories with good vs. evil.”
> “Racism was endemic to the pulps.”
> “Pulp scifi writers in the early days were indifferent to scientific reality and played fast and loose with science.”
Top Misconceptions People Have about Pulp-Era Science Fiction
> There's something going on inside the intelligence communities in at least two countries, and we have no idea what it is. [...] One: someone, probably a country's intelligence organization, is dumping massive amounts of cyberattack tools belonging to the NSA onto the Internet. Two: someone else, or maybe the same someone, is doing the same thing to the CIA.
> Three: in March, NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett described how the NSA penetrated the computer networks of a Russian intelligence agency and was able to monitor them as they attacked the U.S. State Department in 2014. Even more explicitly, a U.S. ally—my guess is the U.K.—was not only hacking the Russian intelligence agency's computers, but also the surveillance cameras inside their building. "They [the U.S. ally] monitored the [Russian] hackers as they maneuvered inside the U.S. systems and as they walked in and out of the workspace, and were able to see faces, the officials said." [...]
> So Russia—or someone else—steals these secrets, and presumably uses them to both defend its own networks and hack other countries while deflecting blame for a couple of years. For it to publish now means that the intelligence value of the information is now lower than the embarrassment value to the NSA and CIA. This could be because the US figured out that its tools were hacked, and maybe even by whom; which would make the tools less valuable against U.S. government targets, although still valuable against third parties.
> The message that comes with publishing seems clear to me: "We are so deep into your business that we don't care if we burn these few-years-old capabilities, as well as the fact that we have them. There's just nothing you can do about it." It's bragging.
> Which is exactly the same thing Ledgett is doing to the Russians. Maybe the capabilities he talked about are long gone, so there's nothing lost in exposing sources and methods. Or maybe he too is bragging: saying to the Russians that he doesn't care if they know. He's certainly bragging to every other country that is paying attention to his remarks. (He may be bluffing, of course, hoping to convince others that the U.S. has intelligence capabilities it doesn't.)
> What happens when intelligence agencies go to war with each other and don't tell the rest of us? I think there's something going on between the US and Russia that the public is just seeing pieces of. We have no idea why, or where it will go next, and can only speculate.
Who Is Publishing NSA and CIA Secrets, and Why?
> If you find yourself criticizing other people, you’re probably doing it out of Resistance. When we see others beginning to live their authentic selves, it drives us crazy if we have not lived out our own. Individuals who are realized in their own lives almost never criticize others. If they speak at all, it is to offer encouragement. Watch yourself. Of all the manifestations of Resistance, most only harm ourselves. Criticism and cruelty harm others as well.
— Steven Pressfield, War of Art
Interesting: reminds me of the Chinese concept of wu-wei. I feel like trying to switch from an authoritarian style of managing the subconscious to a cooperative one, without overshooting and ending up at the uncontrolled style, has been a big project of mine for the last few years.
> Intent is a kind of decision making that directs awareness as well as activity. It is a powerful way to manage your ku [a concept in Hawaiian traditional folk psychology, roughly corresponding to the subconscious], with tremendous effects on health, happiness, and success when used properly. Management theory recognizes three main styles of operation: authoritarian, democratic, and laissez-faire. These also happen to describe the three main ways that people deal with their own ku. To make our discussion more clear we’ll call them controlling, cooperative, and uncontrolled styles.
> When you intend to walk across the room, the intention is followed by awareness, which is followed by action. A controlling style of ku management will involve the lono [roughly, the conscious mind] constantly monitoring and correcting the ku to make sure it doesn’t do anything wrong. The usual effect of such control is stiff and awkward movement or, at worst, clumsy and spastic movement (if there is any movement at all). The cooperative style involves the lono holding the intent and trusting the ku to do what it already knows how to do. The usual effect of this is smooth movement or, at best, movement that is fluid and graceful. The uncontrolled style usually results in never getting to the other side of the room at all because too many pleasurable or additional important things distract the attention. When you are speaking to someone with the intention of expressing something definite, the ku searches its memory and in a miraculous fashion that no one can yet explain, it vibrates the vocal cords and moves the jaw, tongue, and lips in such a way that more or less meaningful sounds are produced. A controlling lono interferes with the process by trying to make sure that the right words are said in the right way and usually creates havoc in the form of halting speech with a lot of “uh”s or “ya know”s or even stuttering. The cooperative lono holds the intent and lets the ku do its thing, which often produces spontaneous humor and unexpectedly good insights or phrases. The uncontrolling lono lets the ku wander off the subject a lot or even speak gibberish. What the ku knows it knows well, and that includes everything from how to heal itself to how to perform skills it has learned. I heard not long ago that hang gliders are designed to fly perfectly every time. The only accidents in hang gliding are caused by overcontrol on the part of fearful human beings. As we shall see shortly, it is the lono that generates fear. The ku is very much like a perfectly designed hang glider. Overcontrolled, it will not function properly; under cooperative guidance it will go and do whatever you want; without direction it will go wherever the currents of life take it.
-- King, Serge Kahili. Urban Shaman (Kindle Locations 565-586). Touchstone. Kindle Edition.