Tuesday, March 08, 2005

On my own

I worked from home today. I did so partly as a way of getting more writing done - I'm always infinitely more productive when there's no one around me - but I also simply needed to be surrounded by silence for a little while.

I know that sounds arrogant and secessionist of me. I'm not anti-social - not most of the time, anyway - and I generally need to be surrounded by a certain level of people-based activity. It gives me the energy, the fuel I need to generate ideas and write about interesting stuff to which people can relate.

But some days, it helps balance things out if I seal myself out and keep things to myself. Today was the perfect day for that: a bitterly cold and intensely clear morning gave way to a gray, snowy afternoon. I layered on a bunch of warm clothes (word to the wise: turtlenecks, flannel shirts, and overalls do much to counterbalance the electronic thermostat that turns the house into a meat locker during the day), made a giant mug of tea, selected some happy music and got to work.

I was, of course, not as alone as one would suspect. The myriad workplace technologies that follow us home made me just as reachable as always. I bounced ideas back and forth with colleagues via e-mail. I called a couple of folks at the office to chat through some ideas I had. I was Instant Messaged fairly consistently - until I turned the damn thing off, that is.

But in the end, I wasn't there. In the quiet spaces where I wasn't typing or thinking about my next phrase, I got to think about whatever it is that comes to mind when there's no one around to guide your thoughts for you. I tried to gain some perspective over the past few days. I failed miserably, for perspective will come in time, but not now. But it felt good to at least make the effort to readjust my focus from close-in to something broader and more future-focused.

Late in the afternoon, the doorbell rang. I perked up, thinking Debbie and the kids had come home a bit early and my relatively silent writer's world was about to be replaced by a more tumultuous family one. My heart sank when I realized it was a door-to-door salesperson who launched into his script even before I fully registered who he was.

No, thank you. I'm not really interested in what you have to say. Next time, please read and actually obey the prominent No Soliciting sign on our front door. Stay warm out there.

My brood came home a little while later. The noise level returned to normal; I was no longer immersed in myself. My little guy wandered over and handed me a toy and a diagrammed sheet of stickers. I began the arduous task of putting the stickers where they belonged, taking great pains to ensure they aligned perfectly with each other (yes, I obsess even over a child's toy zamboni.)

I no longer needed to be on my own, as I once again had everything I needed right in front of me. Maybe I was starting to get that perspective thing after all.

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