Medicine Vs. Cuisine

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2023-09-09 08:00:00-04:00 No comments

I eat around three meals a day, sometimes a sort-of fourth if I'm up late. I also take two prescribed drugs, although there's a good chance one or both of them will end up being merely provisional. When I eat a meal, I know it's for the sake of my survival, but I also try to make it enjoyable. The world would be a far less interesting place without cuisine as opposed to mere nourishment. But when I take medicine, I wash the pill down with a gulp of water and go back to business. The most we can realistically expect from medicine is to allow it to do its job with minimal side effects. Enjoyment is not part of the package.

I think I've been experiencing a confusion, over the last several years, between the things I read or watch for enjoyment (the "cuisine") and the things I read/watch/consume for constructive application (the "medication"). That is, I have a bad tendency to stall on reading this or that book because I feel like it's not going to be immediately useful to the project I'm working on. It's not actually research; it's goofing-off. But then I have a hard time finding "research" material that's directly applicable to the subject I'm employing in my story, and so I end up in a paralysis loop that only breaks when I just pick something up and crack the spine.

I really did myself no favors with this kind of thinking. It's something I did to myself, so it's also something I have to unwind on my own. The biggest damage it's done is make it difficult for me to just read something. Or to drop the money on a given book that I do in fact want "just because", without trying to justify it as "research" or "topically significant" or what have you.

How much of this is an attention-span problem, I wonder? I did consider the possibility that I can only devote so much attention to so many things at once. But the few times I've busted out of this doom-loop, it hasn't felt like that. It's been purely about what I expected to get out of the experience, above and beyond Just Reading. Anything that couldn't be repurposed for the work at hand, or future work, seemed like a waste of time.

Silly prejudices like this are best confronted with a good swift kick. Been eyeing that book? Go buy it, the sky's not going to cave in. Been curious about that movie? Sit down and watch it. Get the wheel turning enough to begin having the experience, I find, and all thought about justifying it disappears quickly. Too much of my mental energy revolves around justifying, and not simply appreciating.

Tags: creativity creators writing