Personal Post: An Inability to Focus

I’ve spent most of my life struggling to figure out what to do with it. I’ve had a lot of dreams and aspirations for things I might have done along the way, and I’ve been lucky enough to have some unique experiences that most people never get an opportunity to have. From riding on a nuclear ballistic missile submarine with my father as a kid to flying airplanes to performing in front of tens of thousands of people as part of a military band in several different professional sports stadiums, the first part of my life was much more of a wild ride than I tend to give it credit for.

The thing is that the last decade or so of my life has been a stark contrast to what my life was before. Rather than being involved in things that put me in crazy places with lifelong memories, I’ve retreated into myself to exist in a world of isolation. I’ve always been a very private person and being social is just not something I have any desire for. I never have. What changed was that I transitioned from being in a position to be provided with opportunities to participate in fantastic events to a very long dry spell where nothing interesting ever happens in my life anymore.

One could look at my habit of extensive use of video games and movies as distractions to identify the culprit of my most recent spat of boredom, and I’m sure that’s true to some extent. However, the real problem is like many other things in life in that it lies on a lower level that isn’t easily identifiable. For most things in life, the only way we can bring ourselves to push ourselves to do something is if it is a passion, and that’s where I struggle. I’ve never really been passionate about anything.

To be able to make a sustained effort toward anything in life, there must be passion. It is the internal drive to keep doing something you love that gives us the ability to keep coming back to it over and over until we polish it into something we can be proud of and that other people admire. It is only when we have something that makes us valuable to others that we start to see various opportunities being presented to us, and those are the times when interesting things begin to happen.

The longest thing I ever really participated in outside of video games or watching movies was music, but it wasn’t because I was passionate about it. It was simply something that came easily to me that turned out to be a great way to make a living. Sure, it was the military and that was a different animal than what most people think about when they imagine the music industry, but it paid the bills and gave me some pretty amazing experiences. Part of me misses that time of my life because of the things I got to see and do, but I haven’t really picked up an instrument since I left and that is a solid indication that music isn’t really a passion. In the end, it was just a thing I did that happened to result in something fantastic.

This is where I’m really struggling in this phase of my life. I’ve never really been passionate about anything except maybe flying, but the door for that as a career has pretty much closed on me. I’ve only got a couple of decades left before most pilot jobs would force me into mandatory retirement, so getting into loads of debt for half a career just doesn’t make sense. Aside from that, I just can’t think of anything I’d like to do strongly enough to really pursue it, which has resulted in nearly a decade of wandering about with no direction.

It is difficult to exist this way, having no real purpose or path forward. I have some idea of things I’d like to do with my life overall, such as travelling around to see things be it in my travel trailer or on a sailboat, but those aren’t really anything productive that I can do. They are simply an end state I’d like to achieve. Even if I can somehow figure out a way to make it happen, I struggle to see how I can be content with it if I don’t have some sort of purpose for my life that makes me feel like a man should feel; like I’m getting something meaningful accomplished.

The problem with me is that I’m one of those people who becomes very bored with things very quickly. It doesn’t take long for something new and interesting to become boring and repetitive to me. After the initial infatuation with something wears off, it turns into a grind and that’s just not something I deal with very well. I crave something interesting and exciting. I can’t just sit still and do nothing. My mind needs something to engage it, to keep things moving, to save me from the urge to scream out of boredom.

It certainly doesn’t help that my career has been comprised of boring office jobs, and also that these jobs have been mostly sitting around with nothing much to do except wait for someone to need something. I’ve passed the last eight years or so of my working life watching YouTube, partially because my employers can’t seem to figure out how to use me, but also because I can’t summon the will to engage in this kind of work with any serious enthusiasm. It all just feels so trivial. What does it accomplish? How does it make me valuable?

I’ve had ideas of things I’d like to do that I imagine would be interesting. Obviously I’ve done a lot of writing, including the first book of a fantasy trilogy that I never got around to finishing. I’ve always loved role playing games, as well as watching movies, so acting has always been something I thought would be a cool career. With all the movies I’ve watched over the course of my life, I think I could actually be a fairly decent director. The thing is that with all of these ideas of things I could do, I can’t motivate myself to do them because the effort involved to get anywhere with any of them is monumental and I can’t help but imagine wasting my time doing all that only to get bored with it just as I’m starting to get somewhere.

It’s the same thing with my job right now. I’ve been wanting to look for something different, partially because I don’t like many of the things I’m asked to do here, but also because I want to find work that I can do remotely so I can start moving around unrestricted, not being tied to one particular location. The problem is that looking for work requires effort, and I just can’t summon the focus to do that until I absolutely have to. Even though I imagine it would be better for me to find another job, I just can’t focus on it enough because looking for work is tedious and boring and I just can’t be bothered. Maybe for the five minutes or so that I’m angry about something at work, but once that evaporates it’s back to just living with it.

I guess the point of this post is to articulate the idea that some of us really struggle with living in a way that prevents us from moving anywhere, not because we don’t have valuable skills and abilities, but because we just can’t maintain our focus on any one thing long enough to really get anywhere with it. It’s unclear to me how to escape from this choking loop of self-sabotage, but I really wish I could find something I can be passionate enough to center my life around.

Until then, if it ever happens, I will continue to struggle with simply working to make a living. Most of the people in the world do it and many of them are just fine with it, and one of the things I’ve learned is that I can do what I have to do to get by. I simply imagine that I suffer through it more than most because it’s all just so boring, and I can’t stand to be bored. All I can do is hope that things change for me someday, and try to patiently wait for it.

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