Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Trying to get engaged

For some time now I have not been applying myself wholeheartedly to anything. At work, I have been in a position that doesn't require significant application of brain power. As senior engineer in the company, I'm assisting people on their more difficult problems. I'm coordinating training courses, and on occasion teach one. That has taken up a lot more time than I expected it to do. But it's easy. Make calls, send e-mails, repeat. I spend a lot of time on what I call research and development, studying new trends in our business, taking notes, plan some training, write some simple design guides or specifications--most enjoyable, but not brain taxing.

For the last several weeks I have disengaged from writing. All I'm doing is organizing, filing, and typing a few things I wrote some time ago. I'm also back-checking the latest round of edits on Doctor Luke's Assistant before discarding the mark-ups. I was working on some new Bible studies to write, but I've set those aside as well. Oh, yes, I also wrote a couple of haiku over the last weeks. These were not simple 5-7-5 ones, but rather well-thought out for the fundamental haiku elements.

Work around the house doesn't take much effort, nor does the reading list I'm going through. So I have felt my brain slowly disengaging. Certainly at work it is somewhat, and now off work it is as well. This is a terrible feeling in a way, for I have always had my brain engaged in many things; scattering concentrated thought around many projects. Now it seems the toughest thing I have to decide is whether to keep a certain piece of paper or not, and if kept where to file it. I wrote a triolet about this sort of thing last November:


I long to live that day when I will rest,
and cease to tax my brain. Then I will die
and stand before my Maker. Yet, I'm blessed;
I long to live! The day that I will rest
is somewhere out there, far beyond the quest
that now demands I try, and fail, and try.
I long to live that day when I will rest
and cease to tax my brain, then I will die.

But beginning last week, really Friday of the week before that, I began working on a project at work I had put off for a long time. It required learning a new computer program, and what I feared would be tedious work depicting a large drainage basin for calculating flood flows. Only one person in the office knew the program, and I didn't think he knew it much. While waiting on him to answer an e-mail of a request for help, I worked on learning the program myself through reading the manual and just trying stuff. I got pretty far along, far enough to enter a dummy project and get it to run. I finally had this training session and it turned out the guy didn't know any more than I did at that stage.

As I feared, the work is extremely tedious. It requires me to really think about what I am doing. My brain as a consequence has rebelled. By the time I finish a full day of working on that, I have nothing left to think at home. Hence I have been reading, doing a few of these simple writing things, and playing mindless computer games. For an hour or more.

My hope is that this difficult project at work will be like exercise for my brain. Can the brain atrophy, like one of the voluntary muscles? When I cease to tax my brain, will I then die--intellectually if not physically? Hmmm, enquiring minds want to know. Hopefully this will turn out to be good for me. Maybe a few more days of having to use my brain the full eight hours at work will strengthen it, and I will find myself with something left in the skull come evening. Hey, this evening I had enough left to write this post.


Anonymous said...

Just fatigue and generally bad news in the larger world. Get your rest for a while and recharge. -Gary

David A. Todd said...


Thanks for the post, and sorry it took me so long to reply. As you see in my next post the whirlwind just never stops. Recharging from this one will just prepare me for the next.

I conclude it is not a good idea to dream of accomplishing great things. It's not good for the equilibrium.