Friday, March 17, 2006


I think this is good. But I'm not sure.

I've been working pretty hard -- putting in five times as much real work, probably, as I had been during my slump. I'm pulling myself out of habitual grooves over and over.

It's exhausting. I keep finding that the question "am I doing this the best and smartest way I can think of?" turns up the answer: "no." Not that it's any easier or more rewarding to do the work in a substandard way. On the contrary, it's harder and less rewarding. But I've habitually chosen the way of least exposure. Do it the laborious way rather than ask somebody's help. Spending half an hour trying to make sense of blurry documentation rather than phoning someone who's sure to know, and could tell me in two minutes.

But every time I ask for help or make a phone call, it takes its toll. And I end the workday completely spent.

It's easy to imagine I"ve transcended something when in fact I haven't risen to it yet. I used to plume myself on how I put my work aside at the end of the day, and came home to be fully with my family. Not like those drones who worked themselves into a stupor and came home unavailable.

But really, I had just solved the problem by hiding out at work. I could come home and be present, because I'd had a whole day of being absent. I hadn't balanced anything.

I'm trusting that at some point this will become less hard. Because I can't keep this up much longer.

Beyond this -- well beyond this -- is the question of whether I actually want to be doing this work. I'm more than ever convinced that I was right when I decided that I would never be able to determine that, unless I knew what it being committed to the work was like.

I feel diminished and ordinary, though. This was what I have been protecting myself against, all these years -- against this sense of myself as just a person like any other person, subject to the same discontents, laboring under the same conditions. And that's exhausting too. I hadn't realized just how heavily I leaned on a sense that I had something special about me, something in reserve that would dazzle people if they only knew -- how much I depended on that. If this is really all I am (and what else could a person be, than what they are? There's a lot of teeth in that; come back to it) -- if this is really all I am, then all the motivation I've drawn from glittering futures has to be replaced. Replaced with ordinary pleasures. And that's not just a morning's work, either; that's another task, as hard for me as lifting the telephone.

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