INTERESTED IN EVERYTHING BUT ACHIEVING NOTHING

Dear Ella and Suse,

I read about you in the New Yorker - I LOVE what you are doing and think that real solutions exist in books and you are on to something big here.

That being said, I have a problem - I worry that my life will have no meaning, that I will get to the end, look back and think that it is all a huge waste. It gets worse as I get older.

I think because of this, I tend to dabble in lots of things, hoping to find THE thing, I write novels, poetry, I try hard work-outs for a few months then develop interests in biology, mathematics, computers and the list goes on and on. I get really interested, dig in, then lose interest and move on to something else. Related - I buy books faster than I can read them, and have a huge backlog. I am interested, but as my interests wane, the books stay on the shelf unread.

At no point do I ever pick something and stick with it. So, I worry that I will never contribute to any of these and will waste my entire life.
it.

Do you have any suggestions for me?

T
Dear T,

You, dear friend, are the sort of man who, in the past,would have been celebrated as a Renaissance man. Is there nothing which doesn't catch your eye, or stimulate your wide-ranging intelligence? It seems not. Play to your strengths and enjoy the appetite you have for life and all that you can learn – and if you don't stick with one thing for long, who cares? Where are you trying to get, anyway?

It seems to us that you have two choices: enjoy the interesting journey for what it is (a lot of fun, by the sound of it); or, do that AND write about it in your novels/poetry as you go. Is that not use enough of your knowledge? 

Swap your notion of yourself as someone whois frittering away his life for one of someone who is voracious, hungry for everything. Live in the moment and then move on. Keep a diary/notebook/blog about where your latest reading is taking you. Take as your mentor the irrepressible, dancing Zorba from Zorba the Greek. OK, it's a cliche, but life really is about the journey, not the destination.

Yours, 
Ella and Suse
We prescribe - Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis
  • Dear T,

    I felt a little confused as I read your message. It seems that we are suffering from a similar pathology. But I would like to divide mine in two syndromes.

    First, I miss the focus to keep on digging the fields I’m interested in. Every day I come upon something that I would like to know more about, or that i’m curious about. I make lists as long as my arm of the things I would like to achieve in a near future. In the same day, I can decide that I want to become a carpenter, a journalist or an entrepreneur.

    And when I eventually ponder over all the thing I noted, and the few I completed, I feel puzzled and sad.

    Secondly, I have trouble to choose. I’m never sure that I’m doing the things I really want to do. I would like to be sure that my decisions are based on my judgement, not on something external.

    Do you have any suggestions ?

    Thanks for your advice,

    Thomas.

    By Thomas on 20 Jul 2015
  • I suffer from a similar malady, really.  Zorba the Greek is one my 2 or 3 favorite books. Perhaps it’s for the reasons suggested?

    By Josh on 06 May 2016

TWEETS
@THENOVELCURE

A - Z
LIST
OF QUESTIONS

A SLUG WITH VISIONS OF HUMANITYABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP ENDED, LEAVING SCARSADULT ACNEAFRAID OF FAILUREALCOHOLIC DAUGHTERALONE ON A WIDE, WIDE SEAAlways wanted to be a writerANOREXICANXIOUS ABOUT SINGLE FRIENDAT A FORK IN THE ROADAVID READER, LACKING BOOKBEREFT OF A CATBORED IN ALABAMABOTHERED AND BEWILDEREDBRAIN SHRINKING MOMMABROKENBROKEN HEARTBROKEN HEARTED - TORN BETWEEN MALE AND FEMALE BEST FRIENDSBROKEN UP WITH GIRLFRIEND; FEELING BURNT OUTCAN’T MOVE ONCANDIDA REVOLTAIRECan’t afford to go on holidayCAST ASIDECHEATEDCHRONIC PAINCOLD HANDS AND FEETCONCERNED ABOUT DAUGHTERCONFLICTED PARTNERSCRAVING FOOD CULTURECYNICAL STEPSONDAILY ABUSEDARK NIGHT OF THE SOULDEPRESSED AND UNABLE TO READDEPRESSED DURING CHRISTMAS, AND LONELY NOWDESPERATELY WANTON GIRLDIRECTIONLESSEASILY BORED WITH NOVELSEMOTIONALLY SABOTAGED BY MY MOTHEREMOTIONS IN EXTREMEEVER THE FRIEND AND NOT THE PARTNEREXTREME ANGER AND FRUSTRATIONFADING AWAYFALLEN OUT WITH MY FRIENDSFALLING IN LOVE WAY TOO FASTFAZED AND CONFLICTEDFEAR OF CONFRONTATIONFEAR OF GETTING OLDFERTILITY PROBLEMSFOMO (FEAR OF MISSING OUT)FORGING A BRIGHT NEW FUTUREFRIEND WHO HAS LOST A CHILD LATE IN PREGNANCYFRIENDS DAUGHTER LOST TO SUICIDEFrightened of lifeGAPING HOLEGetting over a break-upGIRL OF UNCERTAINTY, BOUND BY RULESGIRL WHO DOESN’T FIT INGRIPPED BY LOSSGUILTY FRIENDHOPELESSNESSHOUSE AND LIBRARY DESTROYED BY FIREI love music more than booksI no longer commute – and therefore I no longer readI PEEK AT THE END OF NOVELS BECAUSE I WORRY THE CHARACTER MIGHT NOT MAKE ITI wish I were famousIN MOURNING OVER LITERARY DEATHSINABILITY TO SIT STILL AND ANXIETYINCONSISTENT AND NON-STUDIOUS- BUT AMBITIOUS NONETHELESSINDECISIVEINSECUREINTERESTED IN EVERYTHING BUT ACHIEVING NOTHINGINVISIBLE WOMANITALIAN NOVEL CURESJILTED AND UNSUREJOB IN LIBRARY UNDER THREATKICKED IN THE HEADLEADENLIVING ON THE MARGINSLONE RANGERLONELY AND DEJECTEDLONELY IN LOVELONELY IN MONOTONOUS JOB, LOSING SANITYLOOKING FOR A SENSE OF PURPOSELOOKING FORWARDSLOSS OF A SISTERLOSTLOW WATTAGELOW-ENERGY PESSIMISMMAD SCIENTISTMARRIED TO A MAN, ATTRACTED TO WOMENMISSED THE BOATMISSING MY MOTHER-IN-LAWMUM GOING BACK TO WORKNEED TO LET GONEW CITY, NEW LIFE -BOOKS FOR 12 YEAR OLD BOY?NEW FRIENDSHIP WITH HOLOCAUST SURVIVORNIGHTMARISH COLLEAGUENOMADIC FLANEURPOST NATAL DEPRESSIONPREGNANT AND ALONE