By Doni Joszef
Summer affords me lots of free time. Free time is like free money—it’s only as good as the use I put it to. Which leaves me in the driver’s seat.
My daily destination is mine for the making, and, for the most part, I’ve kept it relatively functional. On a good day, I stay productive, which means doing things to keep myself sane and emotionally available for my wife and children. On a bad day, I wander—mostly in my own mind—which means making myself insane and emotionally unavailable for my wife and children.
A good summer involves more good days than bad days, and by that formula, I can proudly file this summer in the “good summer” folder. Nonetheless, bad days happen and today happened to be one of those days.
By “bad” I don’t mean tragic or catastrophic. I just mean restless, anxious, and agitated, like I’m wandering aimlessly, gravitating toward paths of least resistance. (Luxury problems, I know.)
I usually stock up on summer reading, which tends to entail starting lots of books and finishing none of them. As the unfinished books pile up on my night-table, I check in and out of my Twitter feed, Facebook feed, Instagram feed, and back again, which usually entails starting lots of articles and finishing none of them.
I stroll toward the kitchen where I spend a nice chunk of time staring into space. Thoughts begin bubbling through my mind.
As I get older, money becomes more and more of an awkward obsession. I never thought of myself as the money-hungry type. And I don’t even think this is really about money so much as it’s about status. I want to feel like a bona-fide “success story” and it seems like money makes that happen.
It’s like I’m turning into that shallow adult I never respected as a teenager. Pathetic, right?
My mind eventually wanders from my finances back to my Facebook feed, where people are heavily immersed in the Israel/Gaza politics. I’m Jewish, so, of course, I’m rooting for Israel. But my emotional disconnect makes me question my loyalty. Especially when I see how passionate and empathetic people have been. It’s like I’m so wrapped up in my petty mental meanderings that everything beyond the confines of my own consciousness becomes obsolete. People are truly compassionate. And I want to be one of those people. I really do. I’m just a bit too self-absorbed at the moment.
Between my unfinished books, unfinished articles, and unfinished self-loathing, today is turning into a mental assault on myself, by myself.
In front of my disturbed eyes is a sink full of dishes. I can clean them, or I can continue Operation Self-Critique. I shut my mind, turn the sink on, and wash the dishes. One dish at a time. And as strange as it sounds, this is the sanest thing I’ve done all day.
I haven’t solved the Israel/Gaza conflict. I haven’t secured my financial success story. I haven’t finished my many pending books or articles. But I snapped out of my mind, and I cleaned the dishes.
Like I said, summer affords me lots of free time. And free time is like free money—it’s only as good as the use I put it to. ϖ
Doni Joszef, LMSW, works in private practice and presents innovative workshops on a variety of psychosocial topics. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in media psychology. For more information, call 516-316-2247 or visit DoniJoszef.Com.