Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Where Do W-Ego? Up to the House!

Things continue apace on the Hamster Wheel. Never do I miss, wish for, or envision a new life in the world of music as when I feel so cut off from it, much like the way the Golden Compass series describes the battle to prevent us from being viciously severed from our souls. I left the office Friday at 6:30 and again tonight about the same time. I’m beginning to realize that the people involved in one of our searches, one person ultimately, is going to doom it to failure. There’s not a lot I can do about that, as long as his fellow committee members allow him to continue.

About two weeks ago, though, I felt quite differently, differently enough that I spent a beautiful summer Sunday afternoon right here at this computer, banging out candidate summaries and yelling at my kids because I was trying to work. I felt horrible, and it was a horrible experience, for them and for me. I felt behind and as though I had to get them done, but it wasn’t worth the time we lost, the stress, the unhappy feelings or my bad behavior. Wasn’t worth it at all. What I have learned is that the Shadow of this single, charismatic leader who founded this organization, did nothing to train or develop a successor (and in fact freely states that none of the internal candidates should even be interviewed when they are without question, perfectly positioned to take on the responsibilities) and who is now controlling the process by his constant, overriding vocal objections as a member of the Search Committee (mistake number one) is killing the search process, along with any joy I or my boss got out of conducting the assignment.

A perfectly timed gift arrived quite unexpectedly on my doorstep yesterday. It was a book from Shameless that she said she turns to when her head is spinning. After calling to thank her, I took it to the fitness center and got lost in it while churning away on the bike. Slowly I came back to the conscious realization that I had allowed my ego to resurface during this search project, trying to counter the arguments and prove our point. I would get an email, and I would not hesitate to respond immediately. In most cases, that’s a good thing, unless the person on the other end is a megalomaniac trying to get his way and control everything from behind the curtain. I mistook my action for trying to please the client, when in reality, I fell prey to being controlled and risked the authenticity of the work I was doing by letting my desire to please out of fear or competition get in the way of seeing the truth.

There have been a lot of changes going on this summer and my friends are all equally frenzied. My kids’ dad is getting remarried and I haven’t really explored the full impact of that on my son and daughter, although I get glimpses. I have a new work situation that is almost entirely hampered by this albatross project and one or two other obligations. And frankly, working without any down time, not having a live-in cabana boy to help with chores or pay my rent so that I could actually enjoy my kids is another layer adding to the burnout. But all these feelings of exhaustion and frustration are part of the Ego world – feeling resentful that I have these invasions of work on my private time (I take calls at all hours of the day and night but that’s next on my STOP list), feeling like I have to do it all myself, blah blah blah. That’s Ego talking.

Shameless’s thoughtful gift reminds me that I have to be careful not to accept other folks’ shadow or Ego games. I have to be careful not to let my own Ego be stirred by the countless stupid things people say and do. When I called X a couple weeks ago simply to set up a time to talk about some to-do items on the Parenting list, he somehow leapt to the conclusion I was asking for a meeting (can some of you even imagine?!) and dragged us down the path of the list while I was frankly just trying to enjoy my walk and get myself on the waiting list for a few minutes of his time. What a mistake! It happened again a few days later when he threw himself in front of the moving train of his own assumptions about something my son had said. Unbelievable, yet regular as clockwork. There is an Ego and a Shadow there that I am lucky did not completely destroy me before I escaped. He is no different from the client who seeks to control every decision, every move, pretends to be democratic among his peers but is quite the opposite.

We all have these Egos in our lives. On top of that, we all have our own Egos to contend with. It is a wonder any of us can get through any day. The book Shameless sent has good wisdom and healthy reminders about these things. Like the story of letting go of fear so I could swing literally over the treetops with my daughter, the story of Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth offers a way of thinking about our collective human dysfunction as an opportunity. We cannot change others but we can each be responsible for our own awakening if we are prepared to bear it and the marvelous consequences it can have in our lives.

I just found this great vid of the young Sarah Jarosz performing Tom Waits' classic, "Come on Up to the House." It's a great tune, so true. It says "Aw, quitcherbellyachin and shut the hell up!" in the nicest bluesy way. I'm sending it to Blueberry who gets to say hello to that amazing, talented, wise-beyond-her-16-years Jarosz now and then in that Oasis of a town they share, Austin, Texas. Evidently, some of the folks ain't never heard this tune because there was a good laugh from the line, "Come down off your cross/We can use the wood." Give it a listen. And don't let nobody drag you up on their pile of woe. Just tell 'em to come on up to the house.


At July 30, 2008 8:12 AM, Blogger Shameless Agitator said...

Wait 'til you get to the chapters on the pain-body!

Glad the book is helping. We need to get together in person or on the phone to catch up!


At July 30, 2008 5:44 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hey Shameless,
EEEK! That sounds like something NOT to read when I'm at the fitness center, lol! Thanks again for the read. It was perfectly timed and already has come into play.

We miss you and hope we can figure out a way to get together soon...school starts so early this year! :-(

At July 31, 2008 6:13 AM, Blogger Blueberry said...

Thanks for the video. Yes, we are so lucky around here.

I really feel what you are going through. I am permanently burned out on office politics, even if there's no brick-and-morter office. And all the other burnout and frustration... mine bubbled over last year and I am still not really recovered. It swings like a pendulum. I had to throw stuff overboard to get it to budge from one extreme - now I'm some kind 0f free-floating state waiting for the next push - or pull. It's a fuzzy focus.

At July 31, 2008 8:02 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hey Blue,
I know you've been through the ringer. I wish you could link up with an organization that values hardworking creative people.

I think I have started to accept the fact that I feel a little irritated by our firm having taken on this particular, nearly undoable project and then through a number of circumstances I've had to pick up almost all the slack myself. That's really irritating. It would not have been my decision to get us into this mess, but somehow I end up always with the lion's share of the gruntwork. I'm also still irritated that, a couple of weeks ago while my boss's wife and partner was on a conference, he called as I was trying to round up the kids for a dentist appointment, on a Saturday morning before 9 a.m., to talk about yet another big idea. Sometimes he and his wife forget that I don't have someone to clean my house or drive my kids around, and that as a matter of fact, if I say I can't take a call, I'm not jerkin' the old chain.

So, I've decided that since I've had no real time off this summer and can barely squeeze in a bathroom break without taking a call, that over the next two weeks I'm going to implement an "evening vacation" program. I'm hanging with the kids and giving myself a break. Voicemail was invented for a reason.

At July 31, 2008 10:08 AM, Blogger Blueberry said...

That's for sure about the voicemail! I've gotten well trained about shutting the phone OFF (all I have is a cell anyway) when it's time for me to be not working, or just letting it ring and take a message depending on who's calling.

There are face people, phone people, and email people, and I am an email person. I really hate using the phone and would do 90% of everything in email if I could. It's so much easier to manage time that way.

A friend of mine said it drives him crazy to email people who just live across town (he's a face and phone person). I told him that my husband and I email each other from the same house sometimes. ha!!

I'm a recovering workaholic, and I really hate it when other workaholics try to drag me back down just because THEY can't stop working. It's bad enough dealing with myself not being able to stop working.


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