Friday, May 15, 2009

Crash and Overload

(Written at my desk, on a Thursday morning)

I am having a bit of an out-of-the-ordinary morning. I spent the night with friends in another town last night, old roommates of mine actually, and we got together to celebrate the season finale of our mutual favorite show, LOST. I had a great time, reuniting over Chinese food and beer, watching something we’ve watched together for years, catching up, marveling inward at how we’re growing up, and basically just relished a few hours of NOT thinking about anything other than a silly TV show about time-traveling islands and smoke monster inhabitants. I had to get up really early to make the drive back home and run into work late.

So here I sit, late but not nearly behind. We are at an unusually quiet period at work where I am NOT running around like a chicken with no head, and am taking the time to “catch up” which for me, means finally delving into everything I normally can’t do. Like read articles (the whole thing!), blogs, talk with friends, all that good stuff.

But is it all good stuff? It occurred to me this morning that even though my life is relatively calm at this very moment, I am still tense and overwhelmed. So I started reflecting why...and began to realize and respect the sheer volume of information that I shove into my brain constantly during the day. It really doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why I always seem to get sad at night (have I mentioned that I sometimes get sad at night?).

I think it's because my brain doesn’t know how to relax anymore. I am no longer at ease with my quiet thoughts (for a variety of other reasons), and when I don’t have things being flung at me in the evening -- after friends have tucked away at home, work is finished (when I’m lucky!), dinner is fixed, eaten and cleaned up, I find myself unable to unwind. Instead, I unravel.

It’s 11:00am and I’ve read all the headline stories for the Washington Post, the New York Times, MSNBC, Business Week and CNN. I’ve read my obscure government mags, my IT pubs, and had a long conversation with my boss about ACH vendor payment fraud. I've read blogs on topics ranging from the death of a child, to debating the merits of natural childbirth to dissecting the potential Congressional elections next year. I've had conversations with two friends about the calorie levels in hot dogs versus ham sandwiches, heating pads or ice for migraines, the merits and non-merits of exercise early in the morning and why I don’t like TV shows about cops.

It’s madness, really, when you stop to think about it. I can’t stop doing these things; I can’t tell my boss – sorry, I need to calm my mind before I can have this meeting with you. But it’s all just so damn stressful sometimes, especially when you carry the weight of each thing I’m reading and how it stresses me—--oh god, I’m going to have my identity stolen, pirates may or may not hijack a cruise I may or may not take in the future, Obama’s too liberal or he’s not quite liberal enough, states are laying people off, our dues might not get paid, I might not have a job soon, everyone everywhere is laying people off, my children may be hyper or have autism if I vaccinate them—-should I vaccinate them? Will I ever even have babies to vaccinate? What am I doing with my life?

You see the insanity.

And I know I’m not alone—-we’re ALL suffering from this overload and it’s why we, as a society, are ready to collectively jump off the ledge if just one more bad thing happens. The stress and worry and constant chatter is something we both need and loathe. At least, that’s how it is for me.

I need, need, need the interaction, the stimulation, the activity because when I don’t have it, I crash.

But what if the overload creates the crash? What then?

Deep thoughts.

And all before noon.


Ms. Moon said...

Wow. Those are a lot of deep thoughts before noon. But really- think about it- our brains were not developed to deal with all this stuff in the world we inhabit. Caveman brains in a high-tech world.
I don't know what the answer is. Exercise helps. Yoga helps. Laughter helps. A lot. It's like rebooting the computer to laugh out loud.
Breathe. Don't forget to breathe.
Eat well, sleep enough.
Get those shoulders out of your ears.
Write it down. Look at it. Discard what you don't need.
Keep what you do.
And so forth.

TheAbsolutPINK said...

i understand the informational overload. i'm guilty of that too - and i've slowly been teaching myself how to relax again this past year...although the time for it is hit or miss. It's hard to just sit still. Oh GEN Y Traits - GET OUT!

Lady Lemon said...

DUUUUUDE. LOST! I've seen every episode. Only one season left? How can that be????