I realized today that I'm addicted to brain candy. Have been all my life, just didn't know it. And while I don't think I could live without brain candy, I'm now seeing that it cannot be my sole diet, either.
I came across the phrase in a book I'm reading, What Should I Do With My Life ? , by Po Bronson. I'm reading that particular book because of the changes writing has brought to my way of thinking, and because I'm in my early forties when people tend to have those kind of thoughts anyways. In this book Bronson says :
"You don't find purpose above the neck. If you use your brain to solve this problem, you'll usually end up with an answer that only makes your brain happy...The difference is whether your heart's in it."
Wow. I had never thought of it that way. I always went in pursuit of the sweetest brain candy, the hardest and most responsible jobs in my field. I wanted those positions because I wanted to accomplish the difficult, the challenging. I never really thought about whether I would enjoy the position. And most of the time I was so full of brain candy that I didn't realize that stimulation was not the same as fulfillment.
It took writing to show me that I had value outside of my job. Pretty old to realize that, huh ? The funny thing was, it was from writing fiction. Oh, I read plenty of fiction when I was younger, but by my twenties I read and wrote only non-fiction. Give me more facts, please. But last year I began writing fiction, and it set me on fire. It made me happier than just about anything else, and I finally saw that my creative side, which turns out is quite strong, had been totally surpressed by my very left brain career.
I was completely ready to change my life to encourage writing, but during this same period my boss embarked on building a new hospital and in the process put himself in hock way over his head to make it a reality. My overdeveloped sense of responsibility wouldn't let me quit while this was going on, but I held my boundaries to make sure I still had time to write. The hospital is now a week from opening, and I've quadrupled the number of staff reporting to me, and I can see what my future will be, because I've already held a similar position in a huge 24/7 emergency/critical care veterinary hospital. It doesn't involve much time for writing.
The problem is that with orienting/training all the new staff, getting the digital radiography system running, and problem solving all the last minute construction snafus, I'm gorged on brain candy. It feels somewhat like happiness, but not quite. Enough like it though, that I'm not fighting for writing time so much. And that scares me.
So my lesson in all this is to remember that brain candy does not bring real happiness, and that my heart is in writing, and I must listen to that voice at least as much as I do my head.