Saturday, June 5, 2010

The limits of obsession

When I get on a roll, real life annoys me. I'd like to do whatever I am currently obsessed with doing with from morning until night. Moderation is not for me. If it's something I enjoy, I'm not interested in taking breaks. Right now there are three things I'd like to just keep doing until they are done. I'm working on a storage and decorating plan for our extensive collection of games; I've got loads of yarn I'd like to knit up; and I'm at the beginning of a couple of fascinating research projects.

But that way of working isn't compatible with family life. Kids won't let you take over their spaces for days to decorate. Parenting can't be put on hold for marathon knitting or research.

The summer comes with longish stretches of time during which my obsessive nature can express itself. I can take hours or days and just do one thing, because there are fewer tasks to get crammed into each day. No classes, fewer meetings, periods of time when people are on vacation and the office is empty. And I can start to think that I have a right to that organization of time and that one-thing-at-a-time, all-the-time lifestyle.

Home brings me back to reality. It's not worth thinking about huge redecorating projects until somebody could be persuaded to take the kids for two weeks. I can't pull all-nighters in the library or crank out a sweater in a weekend. So the things I want so much to do have to get done in bits and pieces. And to be frank, that's a good thing. Because the problem with that obsessive tendency is that it can be an excuse not to do anything at all on the grounds that you can't do everything you'd like. Better by far to tackle a minor reorganization of a room than a wholesale retrofit, since my visions for the latter are probably unrealistically grandiose Better to fit my knitting and my research around the other tasks for which I'm responsible, lest I fail to live up to what I imagine limitless time at those occupations would produce.

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