T.A. Barnhart

carpe bucko

stop doing

What I want is to get healthy.

No, scratch that.

What I want is to do the things I want to do.

The trouble is, focusing on doing gets nothing done. At least for me, that is. I focus on doing – planning, projects, hopes, possibilities, but mostly the myriad past failures I have available to beat myself up with – and I get little, if anything, done. The focus on doing is how I get nothing done.

Not very useful.

The Buddha did instruct people to do things, of course. But that’s not where he started. He began with understanding, with knowing the nature of human nature. He said there are two types of doing: reactive and intentional.

Stub your toe, and you react.

See your four-year-old grandchild watching you after you stub your toe, and you intentionally swallow the words you were about to yell in pain.

Most of what I have tried to do has been reactive, including things that take a lot of planning, work, money, etc. I have not been intentional – mindful – because I have little understanding of what I want my life to be. I have bits of images and ideas about a possible life, but in the end, these thoughts depend on me doing things I am incapable of doing.

So, it’s time to stop trying to force myself doing things I think I have to do. Things I tell myself I want to do. The problem isn’t the things or ideas or plans; a lot of these are great. The problem is me. I’m not healthy, and my unhealthiness – my depression and whatever flavors of anxiety I bear – makes it impossible for me to do much of anything of use right now.

The plans I’ve been making the past month or so in the mistaken belief I had a better understanding of things: shelved. All of them. Everything is on hold. Everything that is about me doing stuff – hiatusville.

I am going to do things, of course; I’m just going to do those things that I want to do. I’m not going to do things I tell myself I have to do. At this point, it seems to me that if I have to compel myself to do something, it’s not something I should be doing right now. Not because the idea will be faulty.

But because I do not know the source or compulsion behind the desire to do that something. If desire is the right word; it feels more like these things are attempts by the broken parts of my mind to make me do things for very wrong reasons. It’s not that those parts of my mind are evil; they are just not working in a healthy way, so their output has to be considered flawed.

At the very least.

An aside:

I feel like I’m making excuses here. “Here’s why I’m going to blow off these things I said I’d do, and golly, aren’t my reasons just so thoughtful, compelling, and correct?”

That is bullshit. That’s a fucked-up brain that can’t even accept an opportunity to make the space to get healthy. This is why depression is so much fun and why so many people want to join the party.

Aside over.

Here are the only things I have to do

visit my grandkids more often

improve my diet

exercise, get back in shape

get mentally healthy


That’s about it. These things are mandatory under any circumstances.

Here are a few things I enjoy so will continue to do

watch anime

study Japanese seriously

read, focusing on mindfulness & secular Buddhist thought


Neither list includes the things I’ve been telling myself for years that I have to do. I don’t gotta do shit. Or, more accurately, I shouldn’t do shit until a, I know what the hell I really want to do, and b, I am healthy enough to take on tasks and complete them. Right now, neither of these is true. I am repeating past mistakes yet again, and, yet again, I have been telling myself the same things that allow me to make the same mistakes again.

I getting better now.

I see more clearly now.

I have a focus I didn’t have.

This, at last, is the right thing to do.

Yadda yadda. Some old stories and the same old outcomes can be expected.

So, I am walking away from a lot of the daily stuff that has helped me to remain unhealthy. Social media. Planning projects. Telling people stuff. Buying tools. Making up my mind. Steeling my resolve.

Ignoring the truth of things.

I have not had a break from all the crap in my head for years. I haven’t even had an actual vacation. I’m not working right now, but that’s because I’m on workers comp for a hand injury; nothing vactiony about that. I have been moving – somewhere – with no intention, no clarity, no purpose. I’ve been stumbling along as if I’d taken off my glasses (I am so near-sighted) and run out into traffic at rush hour.

The only real way forward is to stop, take a break, and do nothing. Just be present without the need to move or do or become. Writing will always be my safeguard. I can’t write if the words aren’t there (duh), but I cannot force the words to appear. They arise as they will. When I stop and create even just a few moments of quiet and awareness, I hear the words that are waiting. Nothing can force them. 

And if I listen, wait, and allow them to come to me as they will, nothing can stop them.

Other than me, trying too hard.

T.A. Barnhart