Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Comma, Life, and Feeling Done for the Day

Wow, what a great article: The Sad Fate of the Comma.

In the article, Robert J. Samuelson compares the shrinking comma to our fast-paced, ADD-prone, and multi-tasking society.

I will agree that life has gotten too fast. There’s always too much to do, with distractions and to-do lists everywhere. I start one thing, but I’ve got twenty other things needing done that are breathing down my neck. I piddle a little in one thing, then the other, then the other, never able to finish anything before I have to do it again.

The pace of life has almost become as addicting as a drug. I can’t sit still anymore, I can’t just think of one thing, and I even can’t just watch TV! Watching TV is usually done with palm pilot in hand, jotting down thoughts, to-do lists, or playing a palm game. And that’s IN BED, when I’m TRYING to fall asleep!

It’s insanity!

Sitting down to read--just read--has become difficult. How can I sit down and focus on one thing, when there are so many things to be done?

To get back to the article, Samuelson has definitely hit upon something with his analogy to society. When a book has a ton of commas, my reading and attention get tripped up. I fall, I have to go back again and re-read the sentence. In that little pause of a comma, real life leaks into the world the author has created.

I would say it’s my age, but it’s not. I remember HOURS of reading when I was child. Dickens, Austen, Bronte, and even Hardy: all comma-prone and delightfully long-winded.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I probably couldn’t get through one of those books now. I loved them, even miss those old friends, but my attention span has been sucked dry by the pace of our society.

One silly thing I miss about corporate life (twelve plus years ago, LOL), is the empty desk. I was a little obsessive-compulsive about clearing my desk and clearing my inbox. I couldn’t stand it when things weren’t finished. I loved my clean desk. In seven months, there was only ONE day where I went home with things undone. I loved the satisfaction of going home, leaving work at work, and feeling like I’d done a good job.

But now?

I’m constantly trying to cope with things NOT being done, because never, ever, ever is everything done! It just doesn’t happen anymore! Is it because I work from home?

My struggle, lately, has been to re-capture that "done" feeling, that cue to relax, unwind, that feeling of "leaving work."

I just want to sit down at the end of the day, not go to bed because I have to get up in the morning and finish a ton of things. I want to sit down at the end of the day and be DONE.

But how? How do you feel done, so that you can relax at the end of the day? How do you cope with the pace of our society? Is it possible to step out of it? Without falling behind? Or am I in serious need of some ADD drugs, LOL?

4 bonus scribbles:

Edie 7/25/2007 07:27:00 PM  

I've thought lately that I have a bit of ADD. Good to know it's just regular life. *g* I used to read longer books with lush descriptions and deep characterizations. When I read them now, I get antsy. I skim.

OTOH, there were popular books awhile back by writers who wrote sparely--Agatha Christie, Louis L'Amour, to name two.

Nathasha, it sounds like you need to breathe at the end of the day. Try meditation, a guided one, maybe. Read a book for a half hour before you go to bed. Or go over all the good things that happened in your day. Give gratitude. Let it become a habit.

Looking back at my comment, I see I have a lot of commas. lol

Jeremy James 7/25/2007 08:06:00 PM  

How do I cope? Sadly, with drugs: Ritalin, coffee, and red wine to slow back down at night.

When I have a good day at the keyboard, however, it's all worth it!

Great post. Keep it up!

StarvingWriteNow 7/26/2007 07:30:00 AM  

I think it's vital for anyone who works from home to stick to a 9-5 schedule. And if it don't get done, it don't get done. Even when I was a stay-at-home mom, I tried to follow it. I didn't start chores/errands until after 9, and if stuff wasn't done by 5 or 6, it had to wait until the next day. I value my down time too much to spend it (gag!) working!!! This is probably one of the reasons I'm not a successful writer, but right now, I don't care.

spyscribbler 7/26/2007 09:42:00 AM  

LOL, Edie. This is one heck of a year. I need, mostly, to exercise again. With the stupid foot, I am SO limited. Even swimming makes it hurt and swell up. Yoga is the closest to meditation I've managed so far. I have--what do they call it?--major monkey mind!

Wow, Jeremy. And it seems to be working really well for you. I'm thinking I should consider that route, LOL.

Starving, those are words of wisdom. It's a bit hard, since the "day job" is from 2 - 9 most days. But boy, I long for that life like you wouldn't believe.