Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Wiring Diagrams

According to the books and articles I read before launching into this year-long adventure, I could expect to spend 2-3 months in "detox". My energy levels would be low, and I would enjoy staying at home and doing quiet activities with a few close friends. This was supposed to give way to a more exploratory phase, during which I would go to art exhibits, take day trips, join groups, and generally make my way back into the wider world. After a few months of this, I would be ready to start ramping up to rejoin the workforce. Yeah, right.

Here I am, after 7-plus months, enjoying a blend of hibernation, exploratory activities, and small freelance projects. The "supposed to" schedule has fallen by the wayside, and I am just taking life as it comes for as long as I can. This approach has turned out to have unexpected benefits.

I find myself taking small, one-off, noncommittal samples of things that I might be interested in, interspersed with long stretches of relaxation. The noise level in my life is the lowest it has been since, well maybe ever. In the quiet spaces, I'm starting to pick up signals of long-suppressed ideas, wants, and needs.

I'm working like an electrician, first shutting off all the breaker switches, then turning them on one by one to see what lights up. When something affects me strongly, I pause to examine the reasons for the reaction. As I find my hot buttons, I examine the wiring diagrams to see what they are connected to.

This kind of careful examination requires stepping back from the gaudy, flashing carnival midway that is city life in the 21st century. Just as a careful electrician makes sure that the power is shut off before she begins working on the wiring, I am stepping back from the political campaigns, protest rallies, committees, social events, and jam-packed schedules that are so typical of life in Washington, DC. Perhaps an election year was not the best time to start this retreat into my own quiet space, but my interior clock is dictating things for the time being.

I still keep myself informed, but I find myself alienated from the mud-slinging and the snark. I yearn for more understanding about why intelligent, rational people of good will take such radically different stands on the issues. I grow impatient with the trite slogans, marketing spin, and outright lies that each side tells about the other. Why can't we look at both sides, find out what our highest priorities are, and come to a compromise that we all can live with? Please don't say that it's because the other guys have gone insane or given themselves over to pure evil -- we all know that's not true.

And maybe this is where my future direction lies. Maybe I am a person who listens to varying points of view and puts them out in a calm way for others to examine and discuss. I have spent a lifetime gathering facts and observations, putting things in order and juxtaposing things in an interesting way. If I can find a way to make that pursuit pay my bills, I might just have something.

So please don't be offended if I don't sign your petition, show up at your rally, join your committee (although nobody I know has actually expressed any sense of being offended). Only a few small lights are on in my metaphorical house just now--I'm still working on the wiring.

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