Daily Prompt – 1922

When do you feel most productive?

When I am doing something.

I guess I’m supposed to answer with a particular time of day, but that’s not and never has been how I operate. I’m rarely productive in the morning, by traditional standards. I like to meditate and journal. However, if I don’t, I’m an asshole, miserable, and I don’t get things done anyway. So is that productive? I’d say so, and me not being an asshole is a public service. However, I’m probably rarely productive by any standards, now that I think of it. I tend to live in my head, so I rarely have much to show for the long journeys I can take. But, if I don’t share the gold, so to speak, I suppose I am not productive for all that time in my head, which is why I’m here.

Alan Watts said once to stop measuring days by degrees of productivity and instead by presence. I used to think it was so important to be as productive as possible. It was how I knew I wasn’t worthless. Look at all the things I’ve done and all my accomplishments! Look how capable, perfect, overachieving I am!! But that isn’t actually productive. That’s doing something to get something, or letting your brain control you by getting you fixed on an outcome with a built in disappointment.

I used to be productive to tell myself I was good or get others to tell me I was good. It became a massive struggle for me when I couldn’t be this or that, and I’d hate myself for missing the mark. It has taken me years to accept that I don’t operate like I used to, that these versions of me no longer exist except in my brain. That helped me realize it is a word, words need proper context and definition. I get to define productive for myself. This is productive, breathing is productive, I am alive and by my very nature, I’m always producing something – CO2, shit, piss, farts, quips and insights, you name it. Even asleep, I’m producing dreams and some of the aforementioned biological processes.

Validation becomes unnecessary because it’s already built in to biology.

If a kitchen gets cleaned and nobody notices before they trash it again…. If laundry gets washed and nobody even says thanks before tossing it on the floor…. If a meal gets eaten and nobody says thanks or helps by cleaning up…

And I used to get so mad bc I worked so hard, and on and on. But, I’m tired of getting mad. Sure, it can help me rage clean or rage write or more often, rage inward (which is a definition of depression I recently learned) but that is just hurting me and so forth.

Then, I learned to just do things to do them. No purpose. Not even to make myself feel like I did something, because I’ll want it to stay that way, or get thanks, or some kind of validation. Clean it to clean it, write to write, meditate to meditate. Not saying I’m great at it, it’s just another little voice that can whisper in my ear when I start losing my shit.

I actually have been trying to disentangle the notion of me and productivity anyway. I think I used to associate productivity with being a good person or something. It was a vital part of validation for me. Typing that out makes me see, actually, how little I have for external validation anymore.

The opposite of productive is consumption. I think this is my check and balance. I don’t worry as much about the productive side as long as I’m not only being a consumer. It’s okay to be on WordPress/social media if I’m writing and checking out blogs – as long as I’m writing, not only consuming others’ words and works. That applies to my head trips, too, because there’s a big difference between pondering or imagining and eating myself alive from the inside and thinking myself to death.

One of the most profoundly transformative things I realized one day is that, if I am sucking air in my head, inhale by exhale, then I am alive. If I am alive, that means I can do anything, it means I’m here. If I was even a hair as fucked up and worthless as I believe, I wouldn’t be here. As long as I am alive and breathing, I’m doing what I’m meant to, as I’m meant to, where I’m meant to, how I’m meant to. It’s impossible for it to be any other way. I may not have a birds’ eye view, I may not see the whole picture or game, but that doesn’t matter. It’s impossible to be anywhere but where you are. Sure, the brain wants to say a lot, but since when has the brain and all its productivity actually brought you where you want to be? Has thinking ever solved it? I’d say the more traditionally productive I was, the less alive I was for sure.

But now? I’m here, I’m alive. That makes me productive anytime, as long as I’m present and not attached to something in my brain.

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