I had a bit of a melt down a week ago. It was triggered by a simple email request from a colleague. My immediate response was grumpy, within 10 minutes I sent a follow up that I would fix it in the morning. It revolved around IT issues. It brought on a torrent of viterol and sarcasm that woke me in the middle of the night and kept me awake. The next day, with calmer heads prevailing, I worked out a solution to an ongoing IT issues, by the time this posts there should be two new computers in my life. A new(er) office laptop and a new additional computer to use in my office that I simply bought. I have reached the point in life that my comfort and happiness are worth more than a few extra dollars in the bank. Working at home, with my personal computer and my office computer side by side for the past 17 months, I have grown accustomed to two computers, complete with two keyboards and two mouses (many years ago I asked what the plural of computer mouse was, a friend circulated the question, and the response came from Stanley Fish, who at the time was at Duke, that the plural should be mouses.) I will have two computers on my desk at the office for the rest of my working life.
The bottom line of this was a realized how little it took to trigger the emergence of grumpy bunny. I have noticed, as I mentioned last Saturday, that my writing has been down, merose, at times angry. I have written posts, read them and couldn't post them because they were so negative. Maybe this is another advantage of writing a lot, the tone of my writing reflects how I am feeling. Bottom line, like millions, tens of millions, probably hundreds of millions of us, I am stressed out, maybe on the verge of burned out. I am making decisions that will change that.
I bumped into a neighbor coming home one day last week. He is going back into the office one day a week. I explained that I was back in the office three days a week - working from home I was finding the line between work and not work was blurred, I found myself responding to office emails at 6:30 in the morning and 9:30 at night and working all day in between. He said, "oh that is normal." I wanted to scream, no it isn't. It isn't normal, it isn't healthy. Unless you are a surgeon on call to stop someone from bleeding to death, your work is not that important. If he doesn't reply to an email until tomorrow, or next week, no one is going to die, millions of dollars are not going to be lost. Yet, we treat our work as though every message carried that weight.
The past 18 months have been difficult for all of us, and we are not sure if that light at the end of the tunnel is the dawn of a new day, or a freight train. People are concurrently craving human contact, and terrified by it.
Step back, relax, put it all in perspective. Work is not life, we live for more than work. Smartphones are killing us. Working us to death. Keeping us from disconnecting from the world. Turn it off, leave it on the desk and walk away. It will still be there later.
Go down by the railroad tracks and stack some stones. Spend an hour concentrating on finding pretty rocks, stacking them so they are stable, making the stack tall, leaving it for others to wonder at. If stacking stones is not your thing, go find stones someone else has stacked, and admire them, post a photo of them.
When the pandemic is over, we all need to get together for the world's largest group hug. We need that.