Yearning to Feel Alive

Edi Israel

This post reminds me of the First World Problems Meme. People in Syria would not relate to this blog post. But I’ll share anyway at the risk of looking like a complete spoiled brat.

The snark and spark have been blown out of me lately. Could be tornadoes or too much news about politics, but I am hollowed out most days. My mother-in-law feels it. She said, bewildered, “Rocky, Do you know what I did yesterday? I went down to the basement and arranged my silk flowers.”

I’m right there with her. My crazy tasks look different, but feel just as non essential. Lots of filler. Life is stuffed with wood shavings.

How do you pursue purpose and passion without burning out? How many Tuesdays and Wednesdays pass unnoticed through 80 years of life and did we need them to counterweight those electric Saturday nights of youth?

I am reminded of my son, who one day wants to be a Navy Seal Ninja and the next wants to be a grocery bagger. Where does one find that balance? And what do you do in the doldrums to preserve that sense of well being?


  1. Well, I think there is serious work with potentially huge payoffs in this question, so it’s not a pity party to me. 🙂

  2. “You have to eat to be able to write, but that doesn’t make writing a lesser activity than eating.”

    Thank you, Alex, for that brilliance and for giving me permission to have my existential pity party.

    And yes, Holly, lack of traditions, probably in my life particularly, could be worth noting. It’s winter. I am cold and feel alone and stuck. Duh. Join the club. Jamie’s club — where one must get to work and stay busy through the hostility of winter and of life.

    Thank you all for commiserating.

  3. BTW, don’t dismiss this just because it’s a first-world problem. We are very privileged to have the space to face it, and people whose lives have focused around a struggle for survival might roll their eyes when you try to talk about it, but that doesn’t make it an invalid domain for investigation. The quest for freedom from burnout and “filler” activities has to come after we’ve established secure lives for ourselves, but it is still a bigger, better quest than the struggle for survival has ever posed. You also have to eat to be able to write, but that doesn’t make writing a lesser activity than eating.

  4. The doldrums…routine…a rut.

    For me, they pass when I don’t have enough time to think about it. I have to be super-busy to stave off my feelings of passionless-ness/meaningless-ness. Is it ennui? Or Weltschmerz? Fuck it. Nothing really matters anyway.

  5. How do you pursue purpose and passion without burning out?

    When I sit in front of the things I think I should be purposeful and passionate about, I find what’s burning me out is a mess of hostility and criticism. Unspringing that trap seems more important to me than the things I’m supposed to be purposeful and passionate about.

    Doucu’s contribution is below.


  6. Swing with it! I think we are stuck: with the loss of religious life is the loss of the cycling of time that that traditions give us. The pagans do this very well, lining up the swings with the sun and moon cycles. Did you all forget that it is technically still winter?

    Or do you think something else is a foot? An alien energy vacuum hovering over the equator?

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