A New Beginning

In which we look for opportunities in the midst of chaos.

2020 has certainly been disruption on a scale unlike anything I’ve seen before. I’m not sure we know how to react to it yet, either individually or collectively, personally or culturally. Maybe, though, it’s an opportunity for new beginnings.

One new beginning is I am finally back at work. Or something like that – I’ve been hired by an HBO Max comedy series but we are all working remotely from our homes. So I am working, but not technically “at work”. Ha! This is a big relief after six months of down time due to the pandemic. It’s the longest I’ve been out of work since I came to the USA in the mid ’90s and feels like a major reset.

Being forced to a sudden halt did make me realize how burned out I had become and how much I had normalized that. So when I was planning my routine or looking for coping strategies, I was really designing my life to continue to struggle through burn out, not get out of it. If the world hadn’t stopped abruptly, I might still be doing that.

The other big event for us this Summer was evacuating because the Bobcat Fire came roaring over the hill near our property and raced towards our neighborhood. Wildfires have been a big problem in Southern California this year, on an unprecedented scale. There is something surreal about walking away from your home not knowing if it will be there when you come back. Fortunately, none of the houses in our neighborhood were destroyed but the fire came right up to a neighbor’s fence and some people were not so lucky; several dozen structures in the area around us were destroyed. It was an intense experience that deserves a post of its own. Suffice it to say it was also a cause of some major reflection, particularly on priorities and what really matters.

So, the job is new, and we’re working in a new way. Plus many other things feel new by virtue of not being totally obliterated.

A big change for this blog is David has decided not to continue with it. I’m going to leave what he contributed so far as part of the history of this project, and because hopefully he’ll rejoin it in the future. His perspective was valuable for me, a reality-check and somewhat grounding.

Moving forward the blog will necessarily take a different direction. I think predominantly it will be less formal, with me posting more frequently but more concisely, and from a more personal perspective.

I do want to take one of David’s last notes to heart: he observed that since we mostly talk about problem solving, we mostly talk about problems, and that gave us something of a negative vibe. So, I’ll aim to be more constructive and include more solutions and successes, rather than just pondering intractable complexities. After all, if this blog is worth writing (and worth reading!) it should be about solutions rather than just problems. (Although I do enjoy intractable complexities.)

That said, it’s always been valuable to me to discuss problems honestly, and not be afraid of acknowledging them. As a teenager I was constantly berated for being negative, but from my perspective I was simply talking about my experience as it was. At times I was adrift in a bizarre wasteland of denial, where everybody around me kept insisting things were “normal” when they obviously weren’t, and would turn out OK when they obviously didn’t. It was like being the heroine in one of those ’80s horror movies where she sees the monster but nobody else does and they all tell her she’s crazy. I have always been more balanced and grounded when I can pin down reality, as long as I don’t obsess or become overwhelmed by it. There is also some value to simple emotional honesty, even if those emotions are “negative”.

If I have a personal goal for this blog it’s to bridge a persistent gap between my inner world and external reality, what I feel or care about and what I do. I tend to end up doing things that really matter to me in the Vacuum, while my points of contact with humanity are often mundane and unrewarding. So let’s do something about that. Let’s be honest and creative and not defined or confined by conventional expectations.

Let’s see what we can get out of the rest of 2020. And maybe we can go back to something better than “normal”. Did we really like “normal”? Maybe we can do better.

C.

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