A little more than a week ago – before summer descended in all it’s hot and humid glory on Northern Virginia, as it tends to do after Memorial Day — with my back and hips aching from the damp chill, I decided to take a nice, hot bath. I love getting the water just hot enough so that I can open the window above the tub, let the breeze blow in, hear the sounds of nature and look at the trees and sky while I soak and ponder.
This particular evening, it had rained, and large banks of clouds were marching across the sky. I watched them as they rolled and transformed themselves, playing the familiar game we played as kids, trying to see what I could see in their ever-changing form.
Suddenly, I saw a profile. One with bushy hair, a long nose and what appeared to be a mustache. Yes! It was Einstein. Einstein in the clouds! I laughed out loud in delight and wished I had my camera handy. But no sooner than he appeared, the great man was swallowed up by a shift in the breeze. Still, he had been there. And to think I had JUST read a quote from him that morning…
The quote I read was this one: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Which, of course, lead me to thinking about the thinking I had used to create my most recent problem, namely that I am not doing well working 100% on my own. What was I thinking??
Granted, I am an “independent little cuss” to quote at least one of my parents and maybe a few other folks as well… And granted, I am an introspective, intuitive introvert. Yes, all of this means I do well working on my own and prefer times of solitude to think, generate ideas and rest.
What I have discovered, however, is that being independent and intuitive is not enough to attract the work to me, and I am driving myself up a tree and beating myself up about what I am doing (or not doing) that is wrong or, more often, what is wrong with me that I can’t “make” this work.
Now, Albert, if you weren’t a specter in the clouds, I would ask you what I should DO about that? I suspect you would tell me it’s all relative. And well, yes, I suppose it is. So, since then I have been thinking about a different kind of thinking, the kind that will help me solve this problem.
This is going to take a while, and it won’t be revealed as magically as Einstein’s profile in the clouds, but I figured a good place to start was by telling the truth of what lies behind the problem. The truth is that I am not sure what to do with myself in my own context. I know what to do with myself in the context of other people, groups or organizations, but when left completely to my own devices, my own flood of ideas, my own pile of should, my own demons and delights, I tend to avoid, hide, armor up, shut down or numb out. And that’s just not working.
I know where this comes from. At least I’ve cracked that part of it, which was really tough. Now I need to change the thinking that was formed and perfected over a couple of decades. Phew. I wish that was as easy to do as it is to write. But, as it’s another partly cloudy, partly rainy afternoon, maybe I’ll wander outside and see if the clouds have something to say to inspire me…I just hope they don’t show me Al Roker, or worse, Al Bundy, this time.