I am already struggling with creating and maintaining new habits. I don’t do well with, “struggling.” I am easily frustrated and I expect to get things right the first or second time I do them. When it comes to building habits and routines, that means that if I mess up, even once, I get frustrated. Doing something regularly isn’t something you can really improve on; it’s too binary. You either do it or you don’t.  It’s a situation rife with opportunities for frustration.

It’s been a long time since I pushed myself creatively and intellectually on a daily basis, the way full-time learners do. While my job involves learning new things, it’s not like being in school full time, where every single day the primary goal is to learn something new. Build on what you learned yesterday, twist it around to look at it from another angle, internalize it. Learning is (or should be) a state of mind. It’s a way of living your life and I find it beautiful and fulfilling. These days, I learn something in the course of my workday about once a week. I learn something truly exciting to me, something so brain-bustingly fascinating that I think about it for hours, maybe every couple weeks or if I’m having a dry run, months. If I were to win the lottery, I would go back to school and never leave. I feel stilted in my life, and I wonder if it’s my career rather than my job that makes me feel that way.

Of course, it’s could also be the lack of sleep. I do get cranky and over-sensitive when I haven’t gotten enough sleep. Coffee may make me alert and jittery, but it doesn’t make me feel in control. (Parents out there, please be patient with me! For now insufficient sleep is an unusual state of affairs in my house.)

So part of my goal with this site is to re-learn how to write regularly, and in a way that interests me rather than my almighty customer. In school I spent all my time writing. I wrote notes all day in class. I kept a diary between classes. I wrote papers every night as homework. I found these things to be a creative release as well as an intellectual one, and always have. As someone whose art is words, I have never separated the intellectual exercise from the creative. Writing a paper for class isn’t churning out cardboard repetition of my class notes. There is creativity in spinning the different facts into a complete whole, like spinning different threads into a tapestry. Choosing each word to express the right subtleties, to color it with my understanding of the material, gives me a thrill. I never hesitated to use a word I liked. If a professor didn’t know a word I used, my professor could damn well look it up.

Maybe that’s why I spend about 3-4 hours a day writing, but don’t feel satisfied. My audience is very homogeneous, and my subject very dry. I am careful not to use words too large nor too small. The goal of writing at a 6th grade reading level can be an interesting one. And I can name at least a handful of very good books written for children or juveniles that fill an adult mind with wonder. But these are not (usually) expository. These are not the day-in and day-out of server management. They are ideas for all ages and all people.

Today I took a class about Critical Thinking. I am not bad at critical thinking. In fact I can be infuriatingly pedantically critical at times. I don’t remember learning about metacognition as a skill, only as a term for something I do often. Six hours of lecture (albeit very good lecture by a very interesting teacher) is enough to start people on it if they’ve never even thought about their thoughts. Teaching people to think about every word they write and what it might mean to their audience is teaching them an essential skill.

But I didn’t learn anything I didn’t know about critical thinking itself. I learned that Generation Y is also known as the Millenial generation. And was reminded that I am very fortunate to have parents who were able to provide such an excellent education to me. But it whetted my appetite for learning again.

There’s not enough sleep in the world to soften that ache, and I only had coffee this morning.