Abducted by Aliens?
I’d like to say that it was all a grand experiment to see if anyone would miss me that day gravity stopped working and I fell off, but of course I’m connected on Facebook and Twitter with anyone who might give a rat’s whiskers. Anyone who might have spared a raised eyebrow is well aware that this flat, shiny disc we call Earth did not, in fact, flip over in one of its 6 billion year cyclical dumpings and send me off to an alternate universe.
Did I hear a “More’s the pity” from the Peanut Gallery? Hmmph.
I forget how appalling it must be to post “Did you miss me?” and get back several awkward replies of, “You…were gone?” Or, a baffled hedge of, “Everything okay?” That’s a safe reply, because it’s not an outright admission that no, in fact, we hadn’t noticed. It’s a bit tepid, though, if your Internet buddy has been posting a month-long litany of woes, such as “House burned to the ground last night. Wife tried to save the pictures. Dog tried to save the wife. Coroner unable to determine which remains are which. Still haven’t found the kids. Hopefully, they were just abducted by aliens.”
It’s humbling, really, how easily distracted we are by whatever’s right in front of our noses. Family, for example. Work. Life in general. There’s only so much the human brain can juggle before it all comes down like a house of cards. Having observed this phenomenon over the past three decades, I’m just going to go out on a limb and say that no matter how much it stings to realize you could vanish into the Bermuda Triangle and life would go on just fine without you, it’s worse to be the one who’s typing the tepid, “Everything okay?”
When I was dealing with breast cancer, two years ago, a friend was dealing with the sudden, unexpected death of her husband. It took me six months to notice something was horribly wrong, and a hurried review of six months’ worth of her Facebook statuses to have a clue what to say. I felt better knowing she hadn’t noticed that I was dealing with breast cancer, either. Fortunately, we both understand that it is not lack of love, concern, or caring–just a temporary dearth of brain cells that are adept at juggling billions of bits of input every day. We were both immersed in offline crises and wouldn’t have been much help to each other at the time.
Before we indulge in one of those awkward silences, followed by an even more awkward, “Everything okay?” I hasten to add that yes, everything is even better than okay. Things have changed, dramatically, on the career front – in a good and happily distracting way. My broken foot refuses to unbreak itself, and I am still dragging it around in Herman Munster’s boot, but it isn’t hurting me at all. I’ve discovered Downton Abbey, American Horror Story, and Fringe on Amazon Instant Video, and have been making up for my near-refusal to watch TV over the past year. I have almost caught up on sleep, and it has been delicious.
How have you been? Everything okay?
Netiquette ProTip #742: No family member should learn of a significant health-related event in your life – or receive news of your death – via Facebook or Twitter.
Another reason for my absence, I’m sure, is my habitual refusal to do anything I sign up for online that involves creating new “habits” unless those habits are actually required. In other words, while I thrive on work-related deadline pressure, I can’t complete NaNoWriMo now that I’ve proven to myself that I can, in fact, write a crappy novel in a month. I really am committed to losing weight and gaining strength and stamina, so I am sticking to SparkPeople.com and my nutrition plan; however, I am not that committed to blogging every damned day, so this “30 Day Ultimate Blogging Challenge” has had the effect of completely shutting me down. Same with the “30 Day Gratitude Journal,” which is a marvelous idea – in theory. In reality, I’m thankful every day but I can’t seem to remember to write about it. I’m grateful, though, that in the act of forgetting and avoiding these pseudo-commitments, I’ve remembered a lot of other things that are more important.
Finding Joy…or, Better Yet, Letting It Sneak Up On You
The Internet has long been my “escape” – just as books or movies are. The Internet is my playground. When it becomes too full of obligation or regulation or even just a guilty reminder of all the obligations I’m avoiding by being on it – or, when it becomes too much like everything else, to the point where I need an escape from my “escape,” then it’s all a bit pointless and I take a break. When writing becomes a chore, I grab my camera – or paint. Same thing with blogging. But what I’ve realized is that this works with a great many things, including work. Not to get away from the onerous job, but so that we can come back to it fresh and rested, with creative new ideas and approaches to the problems and challenges it presents.
People say, “Let go and let God,” and I think – whether you believe in God or not – this is how the subconscious mind works. Let go. Stop focusing so hard. Let the ideas percolate in your imagination without thinking about them constantly. We spend so much time “focusing on our passions,” when perhaps we ought to take a break and let them simmer for a bit. Maybe let our passions and imagination intermingle and play with each other while we’re not so busy mentally supervising and compartmentalizing them. Trust that they are all there, just waiting for a break in the wall of intense, so-very-grown-up concentration. Sleep–perchance to dream. Isn’t that why we have vacations? When you wake up, when you come back from the beach truly refreshed and ready to face Monday at the office, something’s going to click into place. When work–whatever work is–feels joyful and playful and indistinguishable from the “escape,” you’re doing it right. When the escape feels like work, you need a third option.
For a third option, I highly recommend Downton Abbey, Fringe, and sleep.
So, how’ve you been? Everything okay?