Sunday, April 4, 2010

Starting over

This month I'm just plain taking a break, I'm burned out.  I was going to take Korean lessons on the weekend but I'm kind of enjoying spending my weekends not at the dojo and not running anywhere, trying to do something.  Don't read that as "Oh, Jon's giving up" or anything like that; far from it.  I realized I'm human and I needed a break, I can't run like a machine.  I've burned out many times in the past and this is the first time in my life that my response is to actually take care of myself rather than convince myself I can just slug through the burnout and work more.  That's not the way human beings are made and that's just not a good approach to life.  I think I finally get it.

You see, I'm a worker bee by nature.  When I actually get my mind on something I will move mountains to get to my goal.  When I was in 7th grade I was in band, and I played the trumpet and then the tuba, but sucking at both, I decided I needed a new project.  I didn't play the trumpet very well because I didn't get it, and the tuba was just too heavy and I was just trying to be Mr. Special because I was the only one to play it.  Instead, during the summer before 8th grade, I wanted to play the clarinet.  I don't remember why I picked the clarinet.  I do remember my band teacher saying it wasn't possible because of my overbite, and that part spurned me on a bit.  From June to August I was a clarinet playing machine.  My mom got me one that wasn't too expensive, some beginner books, and a CD of professional play.  My mom was the type of parent where she always wanted to be sure I had every accesory possible.  I sat outside of the house with a makeshift music stand I made out of boxes and a pole I had found and I kept at it until I got it.  When my mom had money to spare I got a teacher and saw her once a week for 3 weeks.  In 3 months, I was good enough to be one of the four first chair players in my band, and even got to be 2nd chair of all the clarinets eventually (and for the rest of my band career I was second chair).  There was a lot of clarinet drama going on once I joined, as there were like 15 players and the 1st chair was really proud of her position till I mixed things up.  The point is, I spent a summer on basically just one thing, working at it until I got it.

I could give a million more examples of this behavior, from the time I spent 6 hours a day learning Russian to trying to start my own online game.  This trait has served me well in the past during times of crisis.  When I was 16 my mother went in for a pacemaker operation and was released from the hospital.  A short time later, she was in severe pain to the point where I had to call the ambulance.  At the hospital, we found out that the operation was far from a success, one of the metal leads of the pacemaker had pierced her heart causing her to bleed.  Thank god I was in time or else she would not have made it.  After the operation my mother had to spend a long time recovering and the breadwinner of the family was yours truly.  However, without savings we were homeless for awhile, living in my Mom's old Mercedes until my aunt helped us get an apartment.

After school I would either work at Vic's Produce store as a cashier or at Baker's Square as a waiter.  On weekends I would work anywhere from 8 to 16 hours a day straight, getting the extra hours from people who called off.  My aunt helped me with the rent and I was able to pay for our food and utilities as well.  Without her we would have sunk.  I did the same thing up to my junior year in college where I worked at the cafeteria during the week and went back home to work at the restaurant on the weekend because it was good money, all this while taking an 18 credit class load and at least 2 foreign langauges simultaneously.  I also helped my mom do her research for her books, checking through online catalogs and helping her document and record the large volume of information she needed.  I was determined but by the end of junior year I was starting to collapse.

All my life the only way to solve a problem, to get through any crisis that came my way, I had to break through it like a rhinoceros.  Life was about strongarming your situation.  The thing is, life has changed now, but my mind hasn't.  During all this work, I only had so much time for people.  In fact, I developed a mindset that certain things in life MUST be sacrificed, that you couldnt' necesarily have it both ways.  Enjoying the little things, having hobbies, and other stuff was a sideshow to the main struggle.  Now, I'm in a much different place.  My job is satisfying and not difficult, my mother has a means of financial support outside of me, and I have time to spread out and experiment.  The thing is, I still had my old mindset when I came to Korea.  The task was to learn Go and all other things be damned.  I've come to see that this is wrong.  It's plain wrong.  Learning Go will happen if I put forth the effort, but there is no reason that I have to rush headlong at it, putting all of my energy into it and forgetting the scenery around me.  That's why this month I'm starting over.

I'm going to go back and rediscover all of the little things I used to like and try to develop myself now that things are different.  I used to love astronomy and physics as a kid.  I checked out all the books I could on stars, extraterrestrial life, and newtons law that my mom had a hard time making sure everything got checked back in.  I used to enjoy writing short stories, be they silly or bizzare.  I used to like playing and listening to music, taking photos, and a just walking around and seeing what nature had to offer.  I want to go back to all these things and see what else there is for me to learn.  Go will be one part of my life, a big part, but not the whole enchilada.  Even with Go, I'm going to start from the very basics, relearn what I thought was common sense.  Go back to basic shapes, basic joseki, and try to learn it in a much more complete way now that I'm not trying to piece it together from whatever scraps of knowledge I can find.

I haven't felt this good in weeks. comments