The October Editor’s Letter—The Burnout
Octobers are one hundred-proof enjoyment. Arguably the fastest-moving month in existence, it deals a picturesque hand in these parts.
Enough crunchy leaves descend upon the streets of San Francisco to mimic a season, mixing in with the scent of urine and stale cigarettes and bay water. If you head north to wine country, actual fall foliage will greet you. Anybody that knows anything would agree that Half Moon Bay is the only place possessing of a worthy pumpkin patch around here, made more lovely if you top off the day trip with an afternoon oceanside drink at the Ritz. All of this is certainly pleasant, but October can also be a hundred-yard dash while responsibilities and social engagements and skanky Halloween costumes and pre-holiday insanities are pelted at you at downright offensive rates of speed.
That’s ripe weather for The Burnout. It’ll catch you in these moments, as you flit from one obligation to the next in attempt to keep pace with yourself. Everything’s just dandy until it isn’t. You’ve got it all under control until you don’t. It’s all manageable until the unraveling starts. Don’t tell me you haven’t lived it.
The Burnout will bring to light all the imperfections you usually are able to overlook. It will remind you of the way you thought it would be, cruelly nudge you with the grand life you have somehow failed at creating. Randy Pausch said, “experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.” That’s not always the case. Sometimes you get a very holistic, full life instead of whatever life you wanted. And I’m still trying to figure out whether it’s braver to embrace the underwhelming life, or to turn your nose up at it and fight for that thing you wanted—and in doing so, forego the simple enjoyment each day offers.
The Burnout is real and it will sneak up on you when work is particularly difficult, when deadlines come like hail storm, when the bills are larger than the paychecks, when you’re struck with a loneliness you can’t quite place. When the travel isn’t gratuitous and you can’t run fast enough, and the decisions to be made are the kind that change lives—but you just can’t see that yet.
If you tilt your head a little, though, it’s glorious chaos. That’s exactly what it is. We’re wasting top-notch moments when we try to organize it. Maybe attempting to master life is just a really fantastic way of wasting it. So whatever life you’ve been building—whether it’s the dream or the brave alternative—it’s yours. And that’s something, isn’t it?