Pressure valve

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, May 6, 2020, 5:00 PM | comments: 0

Working from home has been a familiar and comfortable thing for me for years. I like it, because it's efficient, convenient and for me more focused. It's a drag that we can't go have a beer after work in person, but we do it virtually now and then. The trap though is that you have to set boundaries and unplug, otherwise work is home, and I feel pretty strongly that they're not the same thing. The whole thing about, "If you like it, it's not work," is nonsense. Work has nothing to do with the interaction I have with my family and they shouldn't compete.

For me, my pressure valves, the things that I use to get away from work, or the daily routines of parenthood, generally involve getting away. Going out for lunch is incredibly helpful, to the point that you return to work refreshed much of the time. And every now and then, you just get away from home for a few days. The venerable three-night cruise has been instrumental and perfect for this: It requires no plan, there is no Internet, and you can largely turn your brain off. It's a fantastic means of lazy escapism, which is why we've done it so many times.

But getting away right now is obviously not possible, so I'm finding that I have no pressure valve. I've built much of my mental relief system on changing my surroundings, largely because of remote work. I love our house, it's comfortable with lots of room, but if you're anything but a recluse, psychologically you need to get out and about.

Naturally, you have to get creative. Friday evenings are getting festive around here. The sun is out later, which really transforms our living room and kitchen, and we break out the beverages and music and have a little weekend party. Diana is working in mid-day outdoor activity. We might even put on nice clothes for dinner just because. And of course, there's plenty of Zoom meetings and Facetime.

One thing that does help is just doing nothing. I know some people can't do this, but it works for me. Last weekend, I was lying in the chair on the patio, eyes closed, warm breeze blowing, and completely in the moment. Some people do this with yoga or meditation, but this is how I do it. I think about the breeze and happy things, and always walk away feeling better.

Still, I miss doing stuff, and I'm trying to get my brain to that place it often gets to when flying. You know it's uncomfortable, you can't move around, so you find a way to shut down the parts of your brain that make you twitch, knowing you'll get off the plane in a few hours (and running across f'ing CLT because your connection is never near by). There is no normal in our near future, and it is what it is.


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