Thursday, November 10, 2005

My Sick Fantasy

And no, it doesn’t involve Winona Ryder, or supernatural powers, or even dunking George Steinbrenner in a vat of boiling oil. (Not that I’d mind...) It involves....

Drum roll, please...

Uninterrupted time to think!

I’ve had two opportunities in the last month to think, alone, during daytime hours. One was jury duty, while I waited to be called. The other was at a conference, during the weirdly extended periods between concurrent sessions.

Neither was at work.

And heaven knows, neither was at home. The Boy and The Girl are lovable beyond words, but it would be fair to describe them as high-maintenance. Comes with the age.

In the two recent cases, I was able to make connections between disparate things long enough to write them down. My brain snapped back to its original shape. I felt refreshed, and actually capable of completing a thought. Some of the thoughts actually had something like value.

I have no illusions about being left alone for hours a day in the office, feverishly scribbling master plans and cackling while mainlining coffee. (Not that I’ve thought about it!) But sometimes it’s like standing too close to a Monet – instead of the picture, I just see a whole bunch of dots, and they look random from here.

(Honestly, part of the appeal of blogging for me is that it gives me a chance – a self-imposed obligation, really – to step back briefly each day.)

What’s even harder to find – and this is where you readers are so unbelievably valuable – is unstructured, intelligent, semi-focused feedback from people who know what I’m talking about. Although I have plenty of meetings, it’s rare that I get the chance to spend an extended period talking one-on-one with someone smart about work matters we both understand. Those conversations are usually when the breakthroughs occur, since they force me out of my own little pet obsessions and provide needed reality checks. The hierarchy of work makes it difficult – most of the people I see are either above or below me on the food chain, and the few peers are as busy as I am.

So my sick fantasy – a day without purchase requisitions, faculty complaints, crabby students, weird financial issues, meetings, or the ever-present phone. Just me, at a conference table, with a whole bunch of paper, and some damn good coffee. Punctuated by one or two extended, open-ended conversations with thoughtful and interesting peers, to provide some helpful perspective.

Sigh. This is what I’ve been reduced to...