2243 Duck Soup.

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Do you ever get overwhelmed to the point that you just can’t focus on anything? I’m there at the moment & I know what to do to stop it, but I’m kind of basking in it for a minute. The trick is to ignore the totality of what you need to do & just focus on the thing you can do right now. It sounds simple, but it’s a skill. You have to learn to be able to do it. It took me years to train myself to be able to face my problems, or commitments, or whatever, with this mindset of “do what I can now & worry about the rest later”. My dad had turned this into a fucking art. He can be standing in the middle of a total disaster like some kind of zen master. When he’s done all he can do in a day he just sits down in his chair & goes to sleep. At some point in his life he learned to just turn the worry part of his brain off when it’s time to rest. I’m not there yet. I have to trick myself into it, but it’s a goal. I know if I could learn to do it I could work that much harder because I would be rested every time I started.

When I was little there wasn’t quite so much emphasis on every action having a monetary purpose, but now it seems like everything people do is considered pointless unless you can make money doing it. The internet even made it possible to monetize out leisure time. I expect that’s probably a lot more unhealthy than we realize. But that’s just the world now. At least until something changes.

26 Comments

I’m sure there’s an obvious quack I should make about your title, but bent over like this it seems to have flown overhead rather than landing in my head …

Re: your question — almost constantly and I seem to be getting worse about ably addressing anxiety and achieving anything at all :-(

Long time reader, rare commenter. Your description of your dad’s efficient energy and how you have tried to emulate it hits home for me. I’ve never been able to capture that lightning and have a hard time not thinking about the “totality” of a project or situation, as you said. My question for you is, how do you personally strive to achieve this? Where do you even start? I’m so distracted and scattered these days I can’t stand it.

Also I love your comic. Your character development and consistency is unparalleled.

My best suggestion is to focus on some part of the problem, the smaller and simpler the better. Look for something specific than you can do/fix, and tackle that. If you can achieve some specific task, that may help to boost your confidence as you move on to the next. Even the most complex problems can become simple if you break them down enough.

I think of the three most important to get done, and do the first one, start on the second. … if that gets done: Hurrah! Then I can start in the third. There is rarely time for the third.

Hold on, there! There are comics that are parallel with Between Failures, they’re just not as good.
Or as consistent in posting. Jackie sets a pretty high bar.

I’m glad you appreciate my efforts. Thanks for reading.
As far as the other thing goes I just make myself focus with sheer force of will. Pure stubbornness. That’s actually how I combat depression now too. I redirect my natural stubbornness to not letting myself think in a destructive way. Keep my brain off balance with stimulus.
When I need to do a lot of stuff I just keep my mind on the smallest achievable steps as much as I can. As my mind drifts I distract it with stuff to disrupt the worry thinking. Eventually you get done and your brain doesn’t have to waste energy. Over time it learns not to bother. It sounds simple but actually doing it is the tricky bit.

There’s a number of things to be said about getting think-work done and what it requires, but now that I read your question again, I’m guessing none will help you just yet. Focus is a learnable skill, but it is much easier if you don’t have too many distractions going on. Which might be as simple as cleaning house before getting to work. It might also be there’s a lot on your mind.

I found a method to deal with having a lot on your mind in Eckhard Tolle’s _The Power of Now_, but I’m sure there are other sources that will say more or less the same thing. You sit up straight, relax, (belly-)breathe, and you refuse to let your thoughts ride you. Acknowledge them one by one, then put them away. But always keep your distance, always stay in control. And if you lose it, like you find yourself arguing with yourself, take that step back again. Eventually that gives enough headroom to really deal with at least the easier stuff that keeps your brain busy. Once resolved the issue goes away and you get a little more room in your head.

One way is to acknowledge the actions in your head by writing them down adding a reminder or habit. This way you’ve worked on each problem a bit and can be confident you’ll tackle in time. You can partition a section of your brain for it, but I find using externalized ‘memory’ more relaxing.

Speaking of externalizing your mind. Money helps you make decisions, that’s it’s allure. However it’s only as helpful as the collective idiocy of the people using it, as the value is based on their joint selling/buying decisions, with part of the thinking outsourced to money. So it’s likely not very smart. The real problem is when people believe it is smart enough to make decisions for you and overlook that the absolute value available for distribution that you can get for money is currently shrinking fast… So in a larger frame, trusting in it is nonsense, but in a mid day-to-day frame one still depends on our compatriots’ beliefs about money.

The trick with money is that it doesn’t really exist. Even precious metals have value only because of societal agreement that they do.

Isn’t much of new technology over the ages promoted as creating more leisure time? Yet, it’s just used to make money faster than before. And we have another generation in a hamster wheel of making money and not just making enough to live life.

I wonder if the documentary crew will end up having the father-son follow up investigation as a bonus chapter of the special edition blu-ray.

Technology promotion, what it does, and how we use it are all different things. We in developed countries are no longer required to toil in the fields or on the farm all day, we have mostly other jobs. That is quite a difference from not all that long ago, or even from not all that far away.

So technology gives us more options than we had before. Wether they’re good options or not (e.g. social media are designed to suck away your attention all day), is another thing, and what we choose to do with those options is yet another, and ultimately up to us. If you don’t want to be a hamster in a wheel, don’t be.

We still can make such choices. I see on the horizon the results of people making choices to use technology to keep tabs on us all. And if that gets far enough, getting out of that is going to be very much harder. So we are risking having technology be used to take our choices away. I think more of us need to speak up against that.

And no, “I’m happy in my hamster wheel and so should you be!” with an implicit or even explicit “therefore you don’t need choice” to go with it, is not a valid argument. But it is surprisingly common for all that.

“I see on the horizon the results of people making choices to use technology to keep tabs on us all.”

As a wise man once said: “Learn to control the machine, or the machine will be used to control you.”

Yes, I do feel that. Holy cow, is it hard right now.

I am freaking out.

On the inside.

I’ll be fine.

Heheheheheheheheheh….

If somebody wanted to be a Christmas elf, ya know hypothetically, and possibly by you something on the inconspicuous wishlist, how about should one do it, ya know, hypothetically?

I can’t tell if you’re doing a bit, or something else, because I’m so tired right now. If you mean the holiday list I add at this time of year in the link dump I think you just order it and send it as a gift. There used to be a process but I haven’t actually kept up with how it works. It’s better if you have Prime for the free shipping.

There has been something bugging me for some time now. Is finding a dead guy in a secret room that big a deal to people? I get this story takes place in nowhere u.s.a where nothing much goes on, and I can sort of understand the characters themselves feeling this way. Running into a corpse is a harrowing experience for sure, but to me that’s more a thing about corpses than the secret bunker the corpse was in.

However based on the comment by Jackie on 2239 that this story might be pushing suspension and the comments by the readers saying it was fine in a tone that implied it was pretty fantastic but not enough to break suspension. I have to ask if I’m the only one that finds the arc perfectly mundane?
not as mundane as checking my mail everyday but the sort of thing that shows up in a local paper and maybe gets news segment and then is forgotten by the next dog riding a skateboard. Certainly the man having a safe adds a level of sort of pirate treasuresque adventure flair but its hardly fantastic. More confusingly, having the grandfather be the architect is very reasonable. Picking the man who does construction work in this town, and from again the impression that this is small town, and from the only company in the town do the construction work seems so perfectly sensible to the point I would not have even thought about it until it was pointed out.

I really apologize if this comes out as harsh or as critique, because it isn’t and I absolute adore this comic and very much enjoy it’s writing, but the character’s continued attitude combined with the above is seriously making me doubt my own sensibilities and I’m genuinely asking if I’m simply the odd one out.

Everyone experiences the world in different ways. What is mundane to some may seem fantastic to many. The group reaction to something tends to err on the side of the majority. So, even though this all seems bland to you, to people who don’t have the same perspective it may seem unrealistic. I’ve been alive for almost half a century & have seen some shit, but I know how insulated people can be sometimes, so I take that into account. Early on I was regularly criticized over the details of Reggie’s aunt. It was labeled as unrealistic, in spite of it being one of the most grounded in truth aspects of the story, especially at that time.
Jessica is excited because she understands the opportunity a story like this presents. Urban exploration is one of the biggest subjects online. Combine that with paranormal research & you have a chance to gain a huge audience very quickly. It is in line with the goals she’s been espousing for quite some time. She’s excited & wants other people to be excited so they will want to help.

It’s “mundane”, as in “of this world” only in the sense that it happens on earth. It’s not commonplace for the members of the group to go out on ghost-finding missions, and that alone makes it an adventure of sorts. Then finding a decades-long dead guy in a secret underground room? Most of us can live their entire lives without finding a dead person. And secret rooms aren’t ment to be found. So it just doesn’t happen every day. In all probability nobody in the entire town will run any risk at all of accidentally finding another dead guy in an underground room until someone manages to build another one, sits in it, and up and dies, while everyone else forgets about him for several decades. That also makes it a rather outlandish plot and so it better have a decent story behind it.

On the other hand, all the group really did was just having a silly fun ghost hunt until someone ran into… well, about as big an exploration jackpot you can get in a small town. So story-wise I’ll grant that the build-up isn’t really all that exciting. No dramatic tension building, no suspense shots and danger music and all that. I think that’s what you’re missing.

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