I have a serious problem with self-discipline. I am a strident practitioner of the “you gotta-do what you gotta-do before you can do what you wanna-do” philosophy of life. Which means I’ve managed to get a heck of a lot done in my many decades — none of which has really mattered one single bit in the grand scheme of life.
By continuing to capitulate to the endless stream of life’s gotta-dos, there’s rarely enough time for more than the simplest of wanna-dos. In a single week, I can write several owners manuals; update and revise others; systematically test new hardware & firmware updates; discuss the design and development of future products; research and learn competitor’s products; manage personal finances; troubleshoot computer issues; fix a few broken items around the condo; chase down several OPS’s (“Other People’s Screwups”); make a few market runs; cook; clean; the usual. The wanna-do side is often balanced by nothing more than the mundane act of watching a movie on Netflix. Which, besides failing to provide actual ‘balance,’ isn’t even something particularly high on the wanna-do list — it’s just the only thing that fits within the time and energy constraints that remain after addressing all those gotta-dos.
And if plowing through the weekly wanna-do list isn’t enough, I’m forever and proactively plowing through next week’s too. Between the inevitable obstructions, my decades-long battle with migraines, and having the immune system of an enfeebled centenarian, I can’t just do what I gotta-do today — I also gotta-do what I gotta-do for tomorrow. That way, when the monkey throws its wrench into the works, the gotta-dos still get done.
So week-by-week, month-by-month, year-by-year, the gotta-dos are achieved and the wanna-dos are not. Which is precisely why I began this article by asserting that I have a serious problem with self-discipline — one that, admittedly, is counter to that which plagues folks with teetering inbox towers; dishes in the sink; and a thriving community of frisky dust bunnies under the bed. I’d like to be more like these people. Really, I would. Except I can never fully enjoy participating in the wanna-dos while the stress of all the gotta-dos is staring me straight in the face.
To date, the only way I’ve found time to slip a few wanna-dos into my life is to convince myself that they’re gotta-dos. This is probably why ULTRAsomething is still hanging around after nearly 12 years — even though it’s the proverbial tree falling in the forest. By making the care and feeding of this site a gotta-do, and by making photography a central component of the site’s language, I manage to turn a wanna-do (photography) into a gotta-do. This elevates photography to the same level as, say, reclaiming a little drawer space by scanning my 1990’s tax returns. ULTRAsomething is an artificial construct whose sole purpose, I believe, is to allow me to accomplish a few things I wanna-do by masquerading as gotta-dos.
Curiously, the one thing I always wanna-do the most is create music. But my particular methodology makes this a totally immersive task — one that requires I dedicate large blocks of time across multiple days in order to achieve the results I desire. Which is precisely why the thing I wanna-do the most is the thing I actually do the least. I’ve simply never found a way to convert something as time and labour intensive as music production into an actual gotta-do. Photography, by contrast, takes very little effort, and is usually accomplished with a simple press of a button while I’m out running my day’s gotta-do errands.
As I slide into the final quarter of my life, all these unaddressed wanna-dos torture me. But the old gotta-dos just keep rolling in — the need for income primary among them. So until I figure out how to monetize my soul-nourishing wanna-dos, I’ll continue to live the gotta-do vida.
©2020 grEGORy simpson
ABOUT THE PHOTOS: Several years ago, in order to prevent the annual gotta-do grind from having a more serious impact on my sanity than it does, I decided that another wanna-do needed to find its way into the gotta-do category: Tokyo. After three trips in five years, I’ve come to realize how important Tokyo is to repairing my spirit, restoring my will, and feeding my soul. In a normal year, I would probably have spent time this past month sorting out this winter’s travel and accommodation plans. But this is not a normal year. So in a grossly inadequate effort to keep Tokyo close to my heart, I opted to populate this month’s article with a few of last years’ Tokyo photos. All were taken with a Leica M10 Monochrom. I could hunt through my database to see which lenses I used for each shot, but that really doesn’t seem like something I gotta-do.
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