philosophy

Process, Not Product

Life’s been a little turbulent lately.  Money’s woefully tight, with more bills and debts begging for attention all the time.  I suffered a personal loss, as my grandmother finally laid down after years of slowly disintegrating.  Professionally, work is a mess.  I find myself increasingly disengaged as my patience for other people’s bullshit and unwillingness to self-examine or grow at all has reached a near breaking point.

I’m not sure I see it much better elsewhere.  Another job like this is just that: another job like this, filled with myopic people and petty self-interest.

What I want to do is write full-time, but my misanthropy is getting in the way.  I’m having a hard time seeing the light or the goodness in other people.

I did just back from Panama, where I did manage to unwind a bit, and even hand-fed a wild tamarind, which I desperately hope isn’t some sort of egregious ecological violation.  I hope I didn’t endanger the poor little guys by exposing them to something they aren’t used to and therefore, can’t cope with.

I did think a lot about where I want to go with my life and what I want it to be.  Unfortunately, the changes all look too big for me right now, and my motivation is flagging.  The subject matter with which I’m obsessed at the moment is meant to exorcise a few demons, but mostly seems to be miring me deeper into the mud.

I’ve decided to focus on process, not product, however, and that seems to be helping.  Every step is a step forward, even if it’s a baby shuffle.

What doesn’t work is standing still and spinning wheels.

For this inspiration, I’ll credit Thomas Sterner and The Practicing Mind.  Ironically, when I first read this book, it seemed a much more mundane version of Eckhart Tolle’s The Power Of Now, and I didn’t make much connection with it.  A few years later, I found it in a drawer and read it again, and found it a bit more enticing.  Cue another year, and after re-reading Tolle, I read The Practicing Mind again.  Tolle’s wannabe guruism and dictator/grifter tone always put me off, though I agreed with the core tenet.

Reading the two so closely together gave me a much needed perspective.  Sterner is Tolle without the self-promotion bullshit.  Where Tolle seems to want to be revered as the next coming of Jesus or Buddha, Sterner’s just providing a simple lesson about what’s worked for him to be happy, productive and in a state of constant growth, in a practical and intelligent manner.

Tolle seems to work from a fixed mindset, where nothing changes or needs to once you read a plane.  Sterner’s message is different.  There’s never any reason to stop learning, to stop practicing.

Process, not product is another way of promoting presence, but with the added touch of continued growth as a person and practical touch of actual application in the real world.  The fluff words are gone.  The doomsday propositions, the preaching from the pulpit, the talking down and the mansplaining – none of it exists in Sterner’s opus (short as it is).

It’s a perfect reminder that we spend more time in the build-up to a final product than in the enjoyment of the end goal.  Logically, it makes sense to focus on enjoying the process more than the end result.  From a simple time accural standpoint, it makes sense.  It a project takes a year to reach fruition, and can be enjoyed for a few days or a month before the next thing, then isn’t it more intelligent to enjoy the year, in addition to the finale, rather than deferring all enjoyment to the end?

It is my hope to move beyond this funk, and I think process, not product is the way to do it.

I can only hope I’m right.

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