I read an article over the weekend that talked about a study done comparing writing with a pen vs writing on a computer. Apparently, it showed that when students were told to write with a pen, they were much more prolific than when they were writing on a computer.

A couple of thoughts come to mind.

First, computers make things too easy, so Iím less invested in the task. I type fast and no extra thought goes into the actual motions that my hands must perform. It just happens, like speaking. If I write with a pen, it actually takes extra concentration for me to get my hands to perform the necessary movements. Thatís just a generational thing, but the people in the study were students. That extra investment of concentration might make a person feel a little more invested in the task itself.

Secondly, those computers on which these kids were writing papers almost certainly had internet access. That is akin to sitting down with a notepad in front of a TV and expecting to write when you have a Tivo filled with your favorite programming. At least with paper notebooks, complete isolation is possible (unless you happen to go somewhere with no internet access (and good luck finding that place)). If you happen to be my age or younger, impulse control is a big problem since delayed gratification stopped existing sometime in the early 80s.

So, anyway, that makes me wonder if I should go back to paper journaling. It gives me something to think about.

This past weekend, I spent it home alone while Adam went off on a camping/hiking trip. I desperately wanted to stay home, but Iíd been convinced that going on this trip would be a good idea. Then later, I realized, I donít want to go, and I donít care how many eyebrows are raised, Iím going to drop out last minute. And yes, I know how it looks to first leave your boyfriend in Japan for a week and then the following weekend, send him on a group camping trip and stay home myself.

Not only did I not care what people thought of it, the thought crossed my mind that if anyone is paying that much attention to what Iím doing, then they are pretty pathetic, indeed.

As long as weíre in the business of being frank, Adam and I havenít been getting along the past few months. Iím not really sure how to quantify it, and thereís really no point in getting into a ďhe did this/I did thatĒ discussion. You wouldnít believe how sick I am of that discussion.

Rather than floundering around in our unskilled ways, weíve sort came up with a semi-plan that Iím not sure means the same thing to either of us, since our common-ground seems to be missing some crucial real estate. The only thing that we both seem to understand is that we both want our relationship to improve. So, thatís good.

Given how things sort of came to a head right before he left for the weekend, this past weekend was full of lots of reflection for me. I even spent a significant amount of time meditating. I havenít had a regular practice in awhile. Iím sure thatís a big part of why I have been struggling, too.

He has saddled me with the task of finding a relationship counselor, so in the places where we vehemently disagree, we have someone to give us a plan to cope with that disagreement. Asking me to find a therapist is not an unfair request, itís just about a division of labor, but if itís not obvious, I have a lot of anxiety about it.

Itís a fairly easy task, look at locations, skill-sets, specialties and make a couple of phone calls. I just happen to have an irrational fear of mental health professionals.

All this time, I have known that I need to get back to regular meditation and practice. The problem has been that Iíve been so depressed or exhausted that anything beyond the bare-minimum of tasks has been out of reach for me.

The past few days, Iíve had a little more awareness than Iíve had during the past several months. This means I have the opportunity to actually make a beneficial change in my routine. The progression went like this; I was uncomfortable in certain situations but I figured that it was ok to live with a certain level of discomfort. Because I didnít address that discomfort, the added stress caused me to become more uncomfortable and it spread to other situations. As my stress level increased, my ability to cope decreased. It wasnít long before I sacrificed all my methods for coping and stress reduction because I was devoting nearly all my energy to avoiding pain.

Avoiding pain is not a coping mechanism, itís just avoiding pain. Itís like having a broken leg and rather than going through the discomfort of seeing a doctor, choosing to just not walk on it. That gets exhausting fast. Trust me, I literally did this. When I was 11, I had an untreated broken leg for a week before anyone took me to the doctor.

Well, luckily, the human mind isnít nearly so inflexible. I have hope in situations like this only because I have faith in the human ability to have an epiphany. As long as weíre open, at any point, we can suddenly see things differently. There can be a shift in perspective that makes all the difference.

Iíve noticed that this tends to happen under two conditions. The first condition being that the individual in question becomes desperate enough to look for any solution. The second condition is that the individual possesses a certain amount of flexibility. Of course, we can all be flexible if we want to be, but like our muscles, it takes a little bit of stretching. Stretching hurts, huts, hurts, at first. It takes time, and it requires pushing oneself a tiny bit beyond comfortable range on a regular basis.

So, anyway, thatís the kind of thing that makes a person who has an irrational fear of mental health professionals start calling mental health professionals. Why couldnít I just be afraid of spiders, like a normal person?

For some reason, this reminds me of a day back in Japan when I was a little kid. I was about 10 years old, and my mom took me to a bath house. Being my mom, there was no explanation or preparation beforehand. It was just the usual task going somewhere unknown, except surprise! You get to be naked in front of strangers!

As a kid who had an overdeveloped sense of shame, I was pretty much mortified at first, but then a moment came where I stopped focusing on myself and just looked around. No one cared. No one looked. Everyone was respectful. So, I stopped caring. What was I hiding from? The rocks?

I allowed myself to just be the same me except without the usual protective coverings of clothing. So, right now, even though thereís nothing going on thatís terribly earth-shattering, Iím challenging myself to let go of the protective coverings and just be the same person I would normally be if I didnít feel extremely vulnerable, right now.

By the way, I totally got naked in public in Japan this time, too. I did it despite feeling fat. I had some thoughts on that subject, but I forgot them.

As an adult, itís much harder for me to be flexible. I have the power to make things how I want them to be almost all of the time. That creates a pretty rigid person.

Since Iíve been back from Japan, Iíve been missing the ritual of having a nice, long hot soak. So, I pulled out my bath salts and filled up my tub at home. I had two baths over the weekend. The hot water does me good.

I also ordered a zafu and zabutan for home. I figure they might help me resurrect a regular meditation practice and I need all the help I can get. I ordered them Saturday night, and they already arrived in the mail today. The office secretary noticed the large packages and couldnít contain her curiosity. After I pulled them out of the boxes, she profusely complimented me on the color (such a nice lady). She asked me about their purpose and as soon as I told her that they were for meditation, she concluded the conversation and moved away almost as if Iíd told her they were for some deviant sexual practices.

Iím not that weird, am I?

By the way, haloscan decided to upgrade their software. I think the comments link should work again. If not, try reloading the page.

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Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010 at 3:01 PM