Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Crest of the Wave

You know, I almost didn't want to do a blog this week, partly because - as always seems the case when I sit down to write - I worry that I have nothing whatsoever to say. The more positive reason, however, is that last week's entry elicited so many fabulous responses from everyone. I didn't want to disrupt the flow.

Well, life and blog-life move on, so keep the haikus and rhyming tributes to your jobs coming, and in the meantime, we'll keep on truckin'...

So yesterday afternoon, I was running some errands, thinking it was time for a blog entry, and wondering what the heck I would talk about this week. There's nothing really going on. Well, actually, there's a whole crapload going on, it's just that none of it is all that interesting to the casual reader. It's just the daily ins and outs of my pleasantly-hectic life, and while I love living it, even I get bored talking about it.

As I'm sitting in my car, listening to an audiobook on my ipod, I noticed that I had been completely and utterly sucked in by it. The engine was off, the aforementioned errand 100 yards away just begging to be run, and Little Miss "Waste No Time" (that's me - see efficiency blog) is sitting in a parking lot staring at the wheel, totally engrossed by Mark Helprin's A Soldier of the Great War. Even after I forced myself to get out of the car and run my errand, I took the long way home just to get a little more of the story, and at home I put in the earphones and did a little uncharacteristic Tuesday housecleaning as an excuse to keep listening.

Fortunately for all of us, most especially Mark Helprin, this is not a review of his book. The book is pretty good, but that's not the point. This is part of my pattern with all books, audiobooks especially. It starts out with a slow build -- I usually listen only while I'm working out or driving a long distance alone. So I'll hear an hour or two a week; and if I miss a week or two because I run with a friend or opt for music instead, I don't give it a second thought.

Sometimes I tune out for long descriptions and have to back up because I realize I've missed something important. It's sort of a casual flirtation at that point, and it can continue like that for several weeks or even months at a time.

But there's some point in every book -- at least, every book worth reading -- where that all changes. The author has slowly, intentionally (we hope) drawn you into the story and the characters almost without your notice. Then there's a turn in the plot, a change in character, some key moment -- and you realize that you are standing on a precipice with a tremendous momentum pushing you forward.

You have become part of the story, for better or worse, and it is a part of you. And even if 100 pages or 3 audio hours ago, you may have considered setting the book aside entirely, it's now too late. The momentum of the story has you in its grip and it becomes all-consuming. You find yourself staying up all night to finish it, reading half-paragraphs at traffic lights against your better judgment, finding excuses for downtime during the day so you can follow the story a little further. You develop a mini-obsession, and when you are finished, you might feel a little sad for a few days that you no longer have the anticipation, the compulsion, the passion. Until the next title catches your eye, and the slow build begins again.

It's a lot like falling in love, actually. You look around and suddenly, there you are, your best laid plans and intentions cast aside and your total focus is only on moving forward, riding the wave to whatever end it will take you.

I love, love, LOVE that part of a book. And just generally, I love those moments in life.

All my life, I have wanted to be a part of that process. I have wanted to lead myself and others to that point where momentum takes over, and the only possible result is inspiration, passion, and beautifully strange, totally compelling energy. Of course, if you look at my history, and especially my resume, you can see that I've ridden many such passionate waves to shore, some with better results than others. Sometimes it's glorious and thrilling, and other times, well, you get sand in your suit.

My goal is to incorporate that momentum and passion into everything I do, and to be aware of it even during those "slow build" moments where it's tempting to give up. The longer I work at it, the more I learn from my mistakes, and the closer I get.