David confessed yesterday that he’s feeling a lot of pressure. I said, of course he is.
In a few short months, we’ll totally uproot our lives and leave the small community we’ve lived in for over 20 years. David will leave the career he’s had most of his life to return to school to do what he really loves. We’re moving to a foreign country, with all of the attendant rules. Never mind that we’re pursuing a dream — it’s a huge effort.
Assembling my tax information for our accountant this weekend, I ended up thinking of 2008 as a lost year. I made a little over $100 on writing — the least I’ve made for five or six years. No wonder it felt weird to me going to Evanston on a gig for Wyo Trucks: I didn’t do any in 2008.
I wondered what I did do last year. Well, I made a lot more money at my day job, especially when I add in the moonlighting I did for another enviro consulting firm. The last six months of the year I went on a business trip every other week: everyone on my team lost huge chunks of their personal lives to this crushing pressure.
I finished my novel — the first full-length manuscript I’ve completed — and made progress on two others. Otherwise, I spent the year breaking into a new market. A couple of essays and a story were accepted or published. Oddly, the money on these came in right at the end of 2007 or now in 2009.
And we worked on the house. Beginning last March, we commenced work to bring our house to top sellable condition for this big move. We spent over $25,000. I’m not counting our time.
This sounds like it’s all about money, which it isn’t. Though our annual tithe+ to keep the country afloat brings these evaluations to mind. What it’s about is keeping your head above water. This article from the Washington Post talks about the multi-tasking pressure that results in tragedy. It’s a long article and well-worth the time to read through to the last word — even through the really horrifying parts. Fair warning: I wept several times while reading it.
The “fatal distraction” of the title is the kind that results in parents leaving the baby in the car to die. No, not trailer trash types who lock the kid in the car while they go hit the bars. Instead these are the conscientious parents. The ones who forget the child hasn’t been dropped off at day care. Who have no idea the child remains baking in the hot car all day. The article describes the kind of person who could do this. They’re the muli-taskers. The ones under a lot of pressure.
Sometimes we get so frantic, so focused on keeping all the balls in the air that something gets dropped. For these people, the thing forgotten isn’t a meeting or a cell phone. It’s the most awful thing possible.
But the point is, if someone can forget their beloved baby in the car, perhaps we can all forgive ourselves for the balls we do drop. Most of us go through our days with two men out and three men on.
Of course we feel the pressure.