I recently finished watching the entire run of Alias on DVD. Naturally, I now want to be Sydney Bristow, if only because Michael Vaughn is HOT.
My dad used to say I should combine my love of acting and international relations and join the CIA. I would laugh and tell him that there’s a difference between acting on stage and acting for my life. But I always wondered about the ability to shut off one part of your life and replace it with another. In Alias, they called this “compartmentalizing.”
Yes, I know Alias is not real. But, according to Master Internet, “compartmentalizing” is a real skill that is taught to people with dangerous jobs; it allows them to set their emotions aside to focus on the task at hand.
My job is not dangerous. I work in the arts. We don’t fight wars, make vaccines, feed people, or provide shelter. And our work isn’t rocket science; at least not in the “if I make a mistake I could blow someone up” kind of way.
My job is, however, fast-paced. In the dictionary under “multi-tasking”, there’s a picture of anyone in my profession. We tend to do a great many things, with our Modus Operendi consisting of hundreds of emails a day, lots of collaboration, committees and soul-searching, and the occasional burst of creative frenzy thrown in to keep things interesting.
Recently, my job has been testing my mettle. But the last three days have reached a new level of intensity. And in the middle of it, I suddenly stunned myself by choosing, quite calmly, to shut off the side of my brain that was incessantly churning over a problem I couldn’t solve. I realized that the problem would be there when I came back to it. And I knew the next moment, the next conversation, was important. So I just shut it off and moved on. It was a completely liberating experience.
I have no scientific idea why it happened. A mental survival mechanism? Perhaps. I’m not going to analyze why it happened, but choose to be glad it did. And I’m going to hold fast to the belief that I can keep doing it, and be healthier and happier because of it.
I’m not ready to go under deep cover in the East European mafia or anything, but I do have a sense that I might make it through the next few months with my sanity intact. That’s something.
Now if I could just score a really hot and sympathetic “handler” who whisks me off to distant lands and whispers into my earpiece while I’m in marketing meetings, life would be just about perfect.