Thursday, September 20, 2007

On being overwhelmed

I have found myself feeling overwhelmed this week.

This is a phrase my husband uses all the time. For what ever reason life, and especially work, always seems to overwhelm him. It is not a feeling, however, that I experience often. I'm one of those people who thrives on having lots of "stuff to do." But this was one of those weeks when the feeling did hit.

The cause of this malaise was not merely time pressures from the confluence of essays to grade, exams to create, lectures to prepare and deliver, meetings to attend, fundraisers for which to bake and organize, Rosh Hashanah services to attend (with the attendant 5 hour round trip) and the ever present household demands of 10 cats, 1 big goofy dog, and one husband. We sociologists like to call these omnipresent demands upon our time role strain (to much to do in one role such as teacher) or role conflict (too much to do from competing roles such as wife/teacher/community member).

What overwhelmed me this week was a heightened sense of all the problems in our society (the U.S. of A.) and our world, of how much effort was required to have even the slightest impact on those problems, the knowledge that I should do much more than I am, and yet cannot imagine how to fit any more into my life. Not just in a sense of time, but in the sense of the emotional investment.

Just staying informed on all the issues I consider important in itself frequently overwhelms me. The need to follow the news and the blogs (where often the real news is found) on such varied concerns as: the war in Iraq and other mid-east issues (like what insanity our administration might get up to in Iran); global warming (with new dire information coming out of Greenland about ice melt); the need for national health care (highlighted for me by the problems of my best friend, retired but not yet 65, in obtaining health insurance); urgent Kentucky issues of economic justice, fair taxation, getting out from under the rule of "king coal"; mountaintop removal (which affects me right where I live); urgent local issues of obtaining minimal levels of services (water, sewer, animal shelters, drug treatment, etc.) all areas in which our rural Letcher county falls way behind not only the nation and the state, but even behind other neighboring Appalachain counties.

At the height of my funk this week, faced with an enormous to do list, I did the only reasonable thing -- procrastinated. I decided to spend some time reading a few of my favorite blogs, beginning with The Influence Machine by e.r. dunhill. I was dismayed to find, that e.r.d. was overwhelmed also -- sufficiently so to decide to resign from blogging for the time being. While deeply saddened by the discontinuation of e.r.d.'s enlightening and fascinating blog, I was chastened by reading his farewell. Compared to e.r.d.'s obligations (job hunt, graduate school, serious community obligations and impending fatherhood) my list of obligations suddenly seemed more manageable both in terms of time and emotional investment.

So e.r.d. "so long and thanks for all the fish."

1 comment:

Jessica G said...

Overwhelmed is a feeling that I can relate all too well with you. I always have "stuff to do" and normally depend on all the "stuff to do" to keep me sane, because if I sit too long and keep my mind idle...it normally leads to bad things. :)

Happy New Year! This Rosh Hashanah is this first one I've spent without my father. However, it really has given me the time to really reflect on how much I miss him. Which is one of the reasons I always have "stuff to do" so I do not think about it or him. Maybe next year I'll actually try going to temple.