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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Workaholism or Fecundity of the Mind?

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Individually Conscious or Unconscious?

Yesterday, during lunch with colleagues, we talked about one of their Masters theses, on Jungian archetypes applied to organizations. And then we talked about the conscious and unconscious. And then we talked about Buddhism.

And then I went back to work and focused completely on responding to participants' feedback from a pilot I ran yesterday and writing the draft of a workshop proposal. All the while, in the corner-office next-door, a colleague was packing up; she was retiring after a 30-year career.

My door was shut, but I still heard colleague after colleague coming by to wish her well. And right outside her door was a huge bin on wheels into which she was tossing old papers between visitors' farewells. Yet I was focused...mostly.

Somewhat Conscious


Her assistant was on my mind because I heard her bravely helping the colleague with last-minute needs, like calling for a cart, so the colleague could bring her boxes to her car, and ushering in the well-wishers, and I knew her heart was breaking because she adored the retiree. And then at 6 pm, even the assistant said her goodbyes and left, but I still had work to do.

I kept my door closed, but felt guilty, like I ought to go home to finish working, and give the colleague privacy as she finished cleaning out her office, but I didn't want to stop what I was working on. I was on a creative roll.

By 6:45 pm, I was satisfied with my output for the day, which had begun at 7:15 am, called home to say, "I'm leavin' and I'll be home within an hour, I hope."

Recreation, Not Retirement

On the way home, I called my mom and told her, "I don't know if it's workaholism or extra creativity, but I had a great, and really long, day. And a colleague retired, and I was happy that I got to stay, rather than retire myself."

My mother just listened. How fun could it be to be trapped in a physical rehab facility for three months due to her accident? And my mother didn't work outside the home for much of her life, so perhaps, she couldn't relate.

On an average day, where things weren't as stimulating as they were yesterday, I might have felt a bit jealous of my retiring colleague...and actually, working from home today during this gorgeous weather made me feel like a kid, who just wanted to go outside and play.

But when I thought of my mom, trapped indoors, with just physical therapy for fun for six more weeks, I wanted to lose myself in my work some more. My lunchtime conversation confirmed that even as I tred to be conscious only of escaping into my work, what was unconscious was super-active in parallel. Oy!

"Mom, I think I'm just pumping till I get to go on vacation at the end of May."

"Where are you going?"

"To Florida for a weekend, to see our friends, who we missed over New Year's." They used to live the next town over and we always went to their house for New Year's, so since they moved a few years ago, we've tried to get to Florida in late-December, but this year, we had just returned from India.

Workaholism and Boring Blog Entries

It was a bit too exciting, describing my upcoming vacation, which also fell between semesters as a true break, and so I knew that between work and school, I've been running too much.

How boring for me to recount, and for anyone to read, about my days of hard work. Still, it was the best I could do. It didn't matter as much if I were conscious or unconscious; rather, I just didn't want to be self-conscious. A year ago, when I launched this blog, the first entry was about trying to get over my self-consciousness, so I could write freely.

Lately, I felt the self-consciousness returning, i.e., the more days between blog entries there were, the harder it became to write freely, for pleasure. Part of the struggle lately, too, was in trying to decide whether this blog was more useful to me and to others as an outlet for any sadness about my mother's condition, or to serve as an escape from the sadness.

I was leaning toward mostly maintaining it as an escape, which was most often when it was the most fun for me to blog. Blogging felt best when it had the same quality as what I did upon returning home last night:

Pat led us outside and we watered a bunch of flowers by hand, with a pitcher and a hose, while we waited for the grill to heat up. It was a total departure from the wild pace of the day. Typically, we just let the sprinklers do the work, but last night, it was relaxing to do it ourselves

1 comment:

rucsb said...

Workaholism as a escape - yes, it resonates.
Budhhism - I created series of notes mailers in year 2008 on " What would Buddha do at workplace" adapted from a book ! My HR head loved them . Would you be interested to receive a copy ?
Your blog entries - boring ? Are you kidding ?