Friday, January 26, 2018

Balance: The Involuntary Standing Desk

I have a standing desk. My standing desk has a chair. As you can see by the photo at right, whether I sit or stand is not at all up to me. This means that any notion of balancing anything is dictated by my furry masters. 

That probably sounds wrong.

Balance is such a personal thing. Most people with day jobs have to worry about work/life balance. Writers have a set of unique balance requirements in that we have to look after our brains as much (or more in some cases) as we look after our bodies. We're asking a whole bunch of our minds while we live inside our stories and attempt to imbue our characters with emotions we usually evoke in ourselves to some extent as we put them on paper.

Reading books written for laymen by brain scientists has been a thing recently and one of the fun concepts is that emotion in the body defines reality for the brain which subsequently releases chemicals in response to that emotion. Do you get angry remembering how that twit in the blue car cut you off in traffic? If I've understood the biology correctly, the brain scientists are saying that you brain and body can't tell that your anger is about the past. You're angry now. Therefore there's a threat now. Have some adrenaline and a few stress hormones to go with it. Now your body is reacting physically to a threat that's not even present. We all do this. I get that. But writers and actors do it as a living. And writers and actors need to know there's a need to purge the accumulated emotional and chemical baggage. 

Exercise, meditation, changing up and tuning our energy systems - whatever that means to you - they're all tools in the box. Getting out and away - seeing or doing something new, those can also be useful balancers. Sure. I get up at 5AM every day to meditate and do an hour of yoga. It's the single biggest predictor of whether I'll make my word count goal for the day or not. In no way do I recommend it to anyone else. You have to do you. 

I used to think I had to get up at 4AM on a consistent basis in order to make life work. I hated everyone and everything, including myself. All those years I thought I had mental illness and I had to take all those psychoactive medications to function. Turns out it was a major body clock issue. When I finally refused to get up at 4AM anymore, I was cured. So if I have any advice at all to offer here it would be this: Don't fuck with your body clock. Yes. You can train yourself to get up earlier, but if you notice you're getting and staying depressed? Back off. There's only so much play in your body's preferred sleep/wake cycle and a definite mounting cost the farther you deviate from it.

I strongly suspect that balance, like every aspect of health, is something you pursue but never quite catch. It's a work in progress and all any of us can do is keep trying.

Which, according to Hatshepsut, I will do standing.