Over Thinking It All

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 2.34.35 PM“I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. . . . There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?”

I share this quote from East of Eden by John Steinbeck because of what is weighing on my mind.  Not that this is exactly what I’m going through, but I am trying to figure out if I’ve done well and wether I am heading in the right direction or not.

IMG_1994In a previous post I wrote about how great it can be to get out on my bike to clear my mind.  I firmly believe that it is how I’ve been able to stay sane all these years, but I seem to have a problem of over thinking when I go for walks with the same intent to clear my mind and today I’m struggling to see the big picture.

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 11.57.02 AMOver the last few months I’ve been taking a look at where I am in life and trying to assess if I’m heading in the right direction or going nowhere at all.  I want to make sure what I’m doing is best for my new family as well as myself.  The conclusion I’m coming to though is I’m at a dead end and need to start over.  I need to figure out what it is I’m trying to accomplish and how I want to get there.  I want to make sure I’m happy with my decisions and I share that happiness with my family.

Let’s take this morning for example.  I treaded out into the wintery weather to visit a local university to get information about some of their grad programs.  I’ve been looking for some time now and have an idea of what I would like to study, but wanted to see if a grad advisor could help me narrow my focus so I could make a decision.  After spending an hour talking to a couple very friendly people I am now sitting at my computer an hour after my appointment writing a post feeling more confused about if and what I would study than I was at 8a.m. this morning.

DSC_0043This brings me to my walk home.  It’s just over a mile from the campus of said university to my home, but it was plenty of time for me to question everything I’ve done in life.  From not taking school seriously in high school to the pants I was wearing today.  Nothing was left unexplored in my mind and I was left wondering what it all meant.  Of course I have no ideas as to what my ramblings may ever mean.  I just sit and stew in front of my computer screen hoping something comes out of all this writing I do.

Writing is my outlet.  When I’m typing up a post or scribbling my thoughts on paper I’m trying to cut out the fat and get to the point.  I’m able to get it out of me and look at what DSC_0140it looks like.  I’m able to then go through and edit the parts I want to take out or expand on.  I’m able to see what the words look like once written rather than how they feel bouncing around in my head.  This is why I’ve decided I have to keep pursuing my dream of being a writer.  I may not be a famous author when it’s all said and done nor might I be even good at what I’m doing when it comes to telling stories, but for me it all comes down to what I enjoy and how I can make this mad world seem easy to live in.

If this means I need to continue writing horrible posts on how I can’t figure out how to be happy or a better father for my reader to endure then so be it.  If it makes me happy to share my struggles then I guess I’ll continue.  If I gain anything out of scribbling down my thoughts for others to read then I’ll keep on writing.  I guess what I’m trying to say is even though I keep searching for what will make me happy I’ll never realize I’m happiest when writing if I don’t spend more time doing it.  So that being said, I’m sorry for more posts coming about my struggles with writing but you’re welcome for seeing there is someone more miserable than you out there.


About jharbottle7

I'm a husband, a father, want-to-be writer, struggling blogger and cyclist. Starting a family has changed my life and made me want to become a better person.
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7 Responses to Over Thinking It All

  1. path4ward says:

    “Today the words aren’t coming. It’s almost like I have so many thoughts to sort and put in order that I can’t. The loudness of the thoughts can’t be quieted enough to go from heart to head to hand, from pen to paper to press. They get stuck in the web of my head where they get tangled. Kind of like Christmas tree lights when you take them out of the box you stored them in all year. They’re a tangled mess. (February 10, 2014)” But when you plug them in, they light up the room. And so I say, we both need to keep plugging away!

  2. echo says:

    Wow, this said a LOT: “From not taking school seriously in high school to the pants I was wearing today.” My, oh my. What an active brain you had during that walk.

    If you left that meeting with more questions than answers, it was actually a good meeting. Grad school, and particularly the decision to go and what to study, is a REALLY tough one. If you don’t feel lost about it at some point, then you aren’t thinking it through enough. For the past few years, I’ve done a lot of hosting panels about grad school and talking with/mentoring undergrads and post-bacs about grad school. It’s kind of…a hobby of mine? I had a really tough time figuring it all out by myself, so I try to talk with as many people who are confused or struggling or unsure as possible. I think we live kind of close to each other, so honestly, if you ever wanna talk about grad school I’m game!

    Also, for what’s it worth, my thoughts on happiness: You’ll never “be” happy. Happiness isn’t a status that is achievable. We can’t work toward it and then have it. It doesn’t come attached to things like a job or a degree. Happiness is a moment or series of moments scattered throughout our life. It comes and goes. All we can do is stack the odds in our favor; find the people, places, activities, foodstuffs (or COFFEEstuffs) that bring the greatest number, and with the greatest frequency, of happy moments.

    • jharbottle7 says:

      Thanks. You’re thoughts on happiness are interesting (interesting isn’t the right word but I’m struggling to find them this morning only half way through my first cup of coffee) and the more I’ve thought about it over the years the more your ideas make sense.

      I would really like to be able to talk to you about grad school. I know my wife is getting tired of listening to me go back and forth about things. She’s been nothing but supportive, I think she’ just tired of me constantly talking about it.

      I live up in the Albany Park area. I’ll send you an email to your Echo in the City address later today or tomorrow once I have a chance to look at my schedule and we’ll see if we can get something figured out.

      Thanks again for the support and looking forward to sitting down and talking soon.

      • echo says:

        Sounds great! I sent you a DM on twitter with different contact info. I don’t check that email very much and, knowing me, I will forget.

        And yes, haha, I totally understand having a supportive (but worn out) partner. I’ve done that to my guy, and he’s done it to me 😛

  3. East of Eden is one of the greatest novels every written . . . read another one about being a father and husband and a man that will blow you away, The Winter of Our Discontent (Steinbeck). I’ve commented before to you, but you would not believe how our lives parallel! As a snapshot, look at my “about.” Great post!

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