Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

“I don’t know what I ate, but I felt immensely better after the first mouthful. It occurred to me that my vision of the fig tree and all the fat figs that withered and fell to earth might well have arisen from the profound void of an empty stomach.”

For me, these bulbs represent my aspirations in martial arts, writing, Buddhism, my family, work, and where I intend to take these things. Sure, some of these bulbs can mingle together, but if I focus solely on one, all others suffer. I need the spread my power, my ability, amongst them all evenly so that none suffer. That’s why I’ve eradicated other bulbs from my life. I was stretched too thin. At one point I wanted to be a composer for film, but that dream just doesn’t match up to my others. I’ll still pick up one of my guitars and practice regularly but that’s a relaxing modality. I’ve always had this dream of growing exotic house plants and bonsai. I do have a few plants and plan to add more, but I don’t let that hobby take away from my true goals. 

One of my biggest time sinks is video games. I built my own high end video game PC that I use for work, school, and play. I have a collection of over 100 games between that, my PS4, and my Xbox One. As I write this, my girlfriend is playing her Xbox One seated next to me and I’d love to reach over and turn my own console on and join her, but I have this responsibility in writing that I’ve assigned myself. It’s work, sure, but it’s work I love and something I want to get better at, so I’m going to sit here and write word after word, article after article, for a long time. Only then will I improve. Only then will I grow. I’ll play later because in this moment I want to focus on which bulb I’m lighting. 

What I’m really trying to say is you need to focus on what’s important to you. What do you find the most value in your life? What sparks joy for you? Video games might be your thing. I set up a treadmill in my home gym/dojo in between paragraphs of writing this so I could step away and come back, keeping things fresh but rested, to make sure I’m covering everything I want to cover. That also let me focus on another bulb of mine, my personal fitness, health, and journey in martial arts. I find value in these things. As I sit here writing, my fukien tea tree bonsai is to my right. I can look over and enjoy its presence at any time. My girlfriend and dog are in the room with me. I’m conversing with Sarah and petting Zeke, my girlfriend and dog respectively. I imagine it’d be a little weird the other way around. 

I have music playing. While I write, meditate, or practice tai chi, I like to have softer music playing. I’ll play a lot of post rock, contemporary classical, or lo-fi. When I’m working out and need a little more aggressive sounds I’ll plug in hardcore or metalcore. I still have everything I love in my life. I just focus more on what brings me the most value. I’m also still in recovery mode today since my pulled muscles and trip down the stairs on my back several days ago, but that hasn’t stopped me from the other things I enjoy. I watched a couple films and hours of YouTube vlogs and podcasts while I was on my self-subscribed bed rest. I wanted to make sure I recover fully so that I can go back to enjoying everything fully, which will hopefully be tomorrow for at least the lighter stuff like Tai Chi training. I may have to take it easy for a week or two in my Karate and Kung Fu classes.

 I suppose what I want you to take away from this is that we often find ourselves spread too thin in life. There’s so much to enjoy, and believe me, I understand Sylvia Plath when she wrote about the fig tree in The Bell Jar.  

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

Sylvia Plath – The Bell Jar

I too have spread myself too thin in the past. I’ve seen everything I could be and it took until I was 29 to realize what I am and am going to be. That’s why I resonate so strongly with the quote that follows the above in Plath’s book. 

“I don’t know what I ate, but I felt immensely better after the first mouthful. It occurred to me that my vision of the fig tree and all the fat figs that withered and fell to earth might well have arisen from the profound void of an empty stomach.”

Sylvia Plath – The Bell Jar

We find ourselves starved for a life of meaning, for a life beyond the mediocre, but we’re all too afraid to take risks, to step outside of our comfort zones, in order to move forward with a particular path. 

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