Perpetually Unfinished
Friday, February 24, 2006

Welcome to Iowa!
Originally uploaded by brittgm.
It's funny, but when I got back home after this last work trip (about two weeks this time), I felt very strange. Sort of disoriented. And pretty lonely.

I know part of the loneliness was that I got back to an empty apartment on a Wednesday, and most of it went away when Alex arrived on Friday. But I couldn't quite shake it completely-- it was in the back of my mind all weekend, and after Alex went back to Milwaukee it jumped back out at me again.

I think I understand it. Part of it, of course, was that I'd been working with terrific people I really liked, and I missed being around them. And that was naturally intensified by the crazy, intense nature of the experience. (It was actually a little like Bel Canto, which I just finished and loved. Except with less tragedy and opera.)

But there was something else, too. It was one of the only times at work I've ever felt like a genuine member of a team, a group of people all in one place working together towards the same goal, and it was a pretty powerful experience for me. I think I really didn't know what I'd been missing until I suddenly had it for a moment. And then, despite the fact that that the actual work we were doing was far less interesting and rewarding than my usual work, it somehow developed this extra lustre that has to led to an improbable case of nostalgia.

I don't mean to suggest I typically work on projects all by myself. But there is a certain separation between me and the other people I'm working with. Part of it is a result of my particular job. But a lot of it is a literal logistical and physical separation-- I am usually not in the same physical place as the "team" I'm supposedly on.

Other than my first couple months at work, I've been across the city or across the country from the other people working on the same things as me. My office-mates are good people, and good company, but we are working on different things. And I only see the people working on the same campaigns as me occasionally; usually we just talk by phone or e-mail. Mostly I sit at my computer in my own little world.

(Ironically, my current office-mates and I were working on the same goals when I was in a different office, across the city; I switched offices last month, shortly after my work responsibilities shifted. I could probably have switched earlier if I had tried to, but at the time, I didn't realize I might be happier that way.)

I'm not sure there's anything I can do about this, short of asking to make some major shifts in my job. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to do that, considering how much I love what I'm currently focusing on. So I guess that leaves me back where I started, except a little lonelier and a little more self-aware.

(Note: Yes, I'm being vague here about my work. If you haven't noticed, I try not to give many details about my actual job on my blog. This is probably completely useless in preventing any sort of potentially ugly situation, but at least I can say I tried. But if you're confused, feel free to ask.)
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Nature attains perfection, but man never does. There is a perfect ant, a perfect bee, but man is perpetually unfinished. He is both an unfinished animal and an unfinished man. It is this incurable unfinishedness which sets man apart from other living things. For, in the attempt to finish himself, man becomes a creator. Moreover, the incurable unfinishedness keeps man perpetually immature, perpetually capable of learning and growing.
--Eric Hoffer

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