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tired and struggling

March 24, 2009

When it rains, it pours.

And I really mean it. Two weeks ago, I got staffed on something that I was told would be blowing up in our faces over the following six weeks. Immediately after that, a long-term matter I’m on also went into overdrive, headed for a filing deadline in, yes, about six weeks. A third project has a looming deadline that is—surprise!—right around the same time as the deadlines in both other matters. A fourth matter has a series of deadlines cluttered over the same time period.

None of this freaked me out. I told all of my supervisors about the unfortunate and concurrent deadlines, set about doing my work, and felt pretty energized. For a while. But then some unfortunate family news was delivered, which shook me up a bit; then one of my supervisors tried to give me constructive feedback which wasn’t actually very constructive at all, and my confidence wavered. Meanwhile the family situation is still unfolding and I very much want to devote a lot of my energy to dealing with it; I also very much want to avoid, at all costs, the confidence-shaking project—and, really, a lot of my other work.

So I’m a bit blue and struggling just to get things done. It’s not the working that’s the problem; it’s doing it for more than 45 minutes at a stretch. Oh, and the getting started. Funny how hard it is to get things done when you can’t actually start them, and then can’t work on them for more than three quarters of an hour. I don’t think I need a break—I’ve been taking breaks, you know, every 45 minutes. Or maybe I do need a break, but in a different sense—we speak of artists and performers waiting for their “big break” and I think I need a break like that. I need something to happen that just completely changes everything, that shifts the mental block and turns me into a drafting machine who can turn the emotional worries off and turn the legal analysis on, and in the next second switch the taps.

The worst part is that I don’t see an end in sight. I mean, I do see something of an end, down the road several weeks from now when all the various work deadlines have passed and things aren’t quite so pressured. But that’s not really an end. It’s just a marker, off in the distance. There’s no way to predict the timing of the family situation, either; it’s just something to be borne until . . . well, until it’s done.

During Lent, many preachers speak of being in the desert—being in the midst of darkness and discomfort—and embracing the lessons to be learned there. And I’ve always thought that was a beautiful concept, and I’ve experienced it a little. But my experiences with the desert have always been of the sit-back-and-wait variety—and those experiences have been challenging for me because I do not easily just sit back and wait, but they’ve also been sort of enjoyable because sitting back and waiting has a sort of nobility about it, a kind of romance. It’s a lot easier to learn something from a challenging experience when you feel noble and romantic going through it.

Now, though, I think I’m in a different desert, one where I can’t sit back and wait, where I have no time to meditate on the lessons to be learned. I have to Do Things, despite my overwhelming desire to Not Do Things. I do not, I think, like this desert very much. There is nothing noble or romantic about it; in fact, I have to completely put aside all of my touchy-feely “let’s hold hands and sing dirges in the desert” instincts and instead just work. I don’t even feel like I’m working through anything, either; I’m just working, making my way through what feels like a neverending pile of stuff that is constantly replenished from the bottom. (Doesn’t this sound like a Greek myth?)

So I’m sitting in the desert trying to Do Things. Wish me luck.

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