From our early days we are acclimated to an increase and decrease of activity similar to the ocean tidal flow. This pattern of activity exhibits itself most notably through the school calendar.
As children, we each know that September will bring a flurry of new activity as we enter a new grade, adjust to the new dynamic of teacher and a slightly different mix of familiar kids. After a few weeks we will settle into a routine until about Christmas when the weather changes and we get a long break from our school schedule. January brings a new adjustment as we get back to school but anticipate snow days and then back to the routine except for standardized testing, then spring break. Spring weather, growing warmth a bit of rain and finally some green come with restlessness that makes routine hard to concentrate upon until; YES another summer is upon us.
We experience this ebb and flow for years, though looking back it seems to have gone by in a flash. The movement of seasons and activity dance about us without much conscious thought. We have trouble keeping up with it all when the flow is rushing at its highest and plenty of time to ruminate when the ebb is upon us.
And then, depending on the profession that we have chosen the pattern reduces or ceases entirely. Each day can flow endlessly into the following day without much to distinguish one from another except for those brief moments of weekends, holidays and vacation days.
Regardless of the amount of activity, or the amount of your energy expended it is almost as if adults have entered a permanent state of what old time sailors called the Doldrums. Back when ships were powered by the wind, a lack of wind could be deadly. Areas of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans which were affected by the Intertropical Convergence Zone, which is a low pressure area around the equator, were called the Doldrums because ships could be stuck in the calm seas for periods of time.
The Doldrums have featured in various types of entertainment such as The Phantom Tollbooth(an excellent book, where I first encountered the idea of the Doldrums), The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and most recently in the Johnny Depp movie series The Pirates of the Caribbean.
What we experience in our daily work lives isn’t something that will be covered in a children’s classic, a poem or a movie most likely. If we were likely to bump into Captain Jack Sparrow dizzily attempting to get out of a long meeting, well we wouldn’t need weekends, holidays or vacation days.
While the ebb and flow of our school schedule carried us through our childhood, we dreamed of how fascinating our adult lives would be because we would have the freedom and the means to do anything we desired.
“When you’re young, you have a great contempt for the lives people end up living. You think people have more choices than they have. Now, I admire people who’ve paid the mortgage, sent the kids to college, maintained a relationship, no matter how pedestrian that all is.”
~Susan Alexander (U.S. News & World Report June 6, 1994)
We could consider our young selves foolish; we could further sit in frustration waiting for someone to realize how great we can be if they’d only give us the chance. We could consider ourselves trapped in the Doldrums of modern life with a job of limited opportunity for varied activity.
Or, we could look closer and see all the little changes that occur daily, that we have within our power to affect. We could learn some new thing every day, we could choose to reach out to someone, we could realize how far we each have come along.
Like many things as we move from childhood to adulthood, from play to work life, the ebb and flow is still there, it is just more subtle.
© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations