A few years back, pre-marriage, I was involved in community theater for a few years. Theatre was a great counter-balance to the workaholism I had developed in my first job after dropping out of college back in the day. (3 different majors in 2.5 years, left for a job in computers. -laugh-) Theatre is a great time sink-hole, blocking large bands of evenings and weekends in your calendar, and getting you away from the computer into creative, social situations with people. The with people part was a shift for me at the time and a very good move for my mental health, I be thinkin'.*
A quick aside: This American Life is a great radio show out of NPR in Chicago. I listen to all of the new episodes on my iPod. They ran a story about people that live and die "Alone in America." Apparently 1,800 people die each year in LA county with no one to take care of their affairs. A full-time department of 10 investigators goes to their clutter-bound homes to try to sleuth out any human connection. Hearing about that annual mass grave (1,800 social isolates spending eternity literally mixed together with nearly two thousand strangers... -laugh-) makes me feel staggeringly successful and fortunate in the friends department. No matter how little "hang out time" I have with friends, I'm a social magnate compared to the right "crowd."
One of my many (!) old theatre friends was back from New York for Christmas, so an impromptu reunion grew from 2 of us, forty-five minutes late, to 16 people three hours later. (Tardiness is rampant among my beloved theatre folk.) So many of my old friends have gotten married, had kids, gotten divorced, developed health problems, moved out of state, moved back in-state, etc... These re-unions are intense for the under-developed social networking and gossip regions of my brain, packing 6 months of people stuff into a dizzyingly concentrated brew I try my best to process and retain. My over-developed guilt lobes always pester me, questioning why I don't hang out with people more. Over the years I've gotten better at squelching its noisy insistence that I'm screwing up a good thing or passing over potential happiness for no good reason. I think that part of my brain is wrong and I'm a good friend who shows up every once in a while. Usually I'm fairly comfortable that's OK.
(I could do many pages on that weird goblin in my head that's always criticizing me. I'll save that for another day...)
* Sorry. I'm 260 pages into The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on my new Sony Reader and it's effecting my grammer. :)
The joy of work
After a dozen years of 9 to 5 I now have one foot firmly off the corporate treadmill. Strangely, that treadmill is now my favorite part of the week. The distance and stepping out of my management role has helped a lot, but now I also see what I couldn't see before -- I crave and enjoy the constant little feedback loops of small accomplishments that come so easily in corporate America. My new world has a lot more potential for deeply meaningful accomplishment, and now I cherish the weekly process of not-so-meaningful work for all it's good parts. As my dad has told me forever, it's probably all about maintaining that balance.
And my co-worker gave me 1600 e-books earlier this week, so that's a plus too. :)
We dropped almost $5K on a bed this morning. I do not feel guilty about the hundreds of meals we could have bought starving people with that money. I'll remind myself that I do not feel guilty as needed. Hopefully this'll be great for my wife's back. Waking up with back pain is not cool.