Monday, November 12, 2012

Life is Like a Game of Wack-a-Mole

Lives average out, right? If you're a mousy office drone who works endless hours at small, thankless tasks laden with nearly pointless detail, you're much more likely to unleash your caged Mongol warrior on the weekends (there's that bit in Hitchhiker's Guide where the town councilman's genes cry out to him), or if you're a serial entrepreneur with a family to feed who nevertheless starts up more and more outlandish enterprises that have no chance of succeeding, defying the odds, spitting in the face of potential starvation and irrelevance, you're also a germophobe who can't use a public restroom.

At the post office, when I worked there one summer, lots of the guys were veterans, and they liked to calm one another down, or pretend to calm one another down, with the military advice to "maintain an even strain." (I'm pretty sure this has its roots in Army training films on lifting heavy objects -- I had lots of training on lifting heavy objects that summer.) They'd say it like "maintaaaain an even strain." That sounds right, right? You do each thing with the right level of intensity, you make sure your bravery is just foolhardy enough and you make sure your fears are grounded in reality. You inject creativity into your boring office job and you go dancing on the weekend instead of riding a bison down main street and smashing into the sushi place.

That kind of balance is unsustainable, of course (and, let's face it, boring), which is why those post office guys used to have to keep saying it to each other all day. Your energy level shifts, you're wired to do certain things a certain way at certain times. Not enough oatmeal one week, you're going to flush all your Ideas files down the can; too much and you start singing really loud in the TSA line.

So, knowing that there are going to be highs and lows, I recommend trying to average out individual days. Just spend half of every minute screaming and the other half laughing. Average!

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