Sunday, May 8, 2011

Finding a way to slow down

I'm on vacation this week at the Oregon Coast. I came down Wednesday afternoon after 3 intense days of work. I also brought an important work project with me that needed to be completed by Thursday afternoon, which I did. I took my computer to the Cannon Beach library and after a series of inexplicable computer difficulties, I finally rented one of theirs (they are a private library) and got my project sent off.

In the email messages that day were two new projects. I'd been expecting them and also knew that I wouldn't have to work on them until I got home. But it isn't that easy for me to let go of the structure and groundedness that work gives me. All the way home to the condo in the pouring rain, I thought about how I could just do those projects while I'm down here. Even the fact that a friend is staying with me down here and we are spending the week together wasn't a deterrent. We do spend time each day on our computers, ostensibly writing on our novels, and how would she know from the other side of the room that I wasn't working on mine but instead editing Bridget's book or Kaye's tenure application?

And I realize how crazy that sounds, sneaking to do my work as if I were viewing porn sights or eating candy in the bedroom. A friend and I have been talking about the addiction of work, which is so familiar to me but a new concept to her. How that sense of being needed and competent is a drug for our wounded selves, giving us purpose and meaning in a world that often feels empty of either.

So far, I have been able to not work while I'm here. I've been able to let go of my addiction to email (I'm checking it only once a day since the condo doesn't have it) and just been in the moment of our activities. It would be easy to make this a judgement about myself, and instead I'm just viewing it as a curiosity.


Bridget B. said...

Congratulations! I'm officially giving you permission (which of course you don't need!) to not work on my book until you get home. ENJOY your vacation.
love you. B

sorella said...

Dear Jill,

Great observations and realizations here. I love that awareness of "sneaking to do work," as it it's a dirty secret that must be kept. The double whammy is that we workaholics feel that way, and yet society is all too happy to reward our out-of-control work ethic.

I also empathize the the e-mail checking. I'm currently reading a fascinating book about a family called The Winter of Our Disconnect. Fascinating stuff, I recommend it highly.

Finally, good for you, for not judging yourself and just observing what is going on. That really helps take the stress levels down. It continues to amaze me how much our "fight or flight" system are only too happy to jump in on non-life-threatening things. Modern life, I guess. Anyway, brava for gently holding that revving at bay.