A funny thing happened to me in the NASA Headquarters lobby this week. I encountered a colleague I haven’t seen in a while. She posed this question:
What have you been doing with your life?
Innocent question on her part. My reaction: TILT!
The connections in my brain overloaded, then broke down. Total Loss of Signal — like when Mission Control can’t talk with the astronauts. When I snapped back, I realized I’d experienced a flash forward moment — a time in my life when I have absolutely NOTHING to do.
No deadlines, no distractions, nothing on my list. Utter bliss!
But to answer her question, one word escaped my lips, “Work.”
In my mind, strobe-light images from the last few weeks danced in my head:
- STS-129 Tweet-up down at KSC,
- STS-129 launch, mission, landing,
- NASA Facebook updates in the wee hours,
- Twitter space talk 24/7
- SpaceSmart metrics and design project,
- LAUNCH:Water sustainability forum, and
- Space Operations budget review…
Oh… just a sampling of the things that keep me awake at night.
She gave me a horrified look, and said,
“But what are you doing for yourSELF?”
Once again, my mind kicked into overdrive. For the month of November alone, I pictured:
- over 50,000 words typed over 30 days of literary abandon in November’s National Novel Writers Month NaNoWriMo,
- 11 blogposts on this site,
- several guest blogposts on OpenNASA and GovLoop,
- reading and responding to hundreds upon hundreds of Twitter updates,
- Thanksgiving preparations and time with my daughters, and
- time with God every single day — the very BEST thing I do for myself.
- Oh, and the dreaded Black Friday!
But, who wants to hear any of that? Really.
So, I responded, “Nothing.”
Seeing that she found my answer inconceivable, I asked what she’d been doing lately. After all, that was the real question, now wasn’t it? She listed Kennedy Center performances, trips with friends, volunteering for worthy organizations, and much much more. I listened to all the wonderful things she was doing and thought to myself,
I really, really want a day of nothing. Just plain nothing.
I think I even said that to her. It’s all a blur. I don’t recall her validating my desire for nothingness.
I get that I choose this frenetic life of mine.
I wouldn’t have it any other way. But, I can still dream about a simple time – my own personal Flash Forward Loss of Signal. A time when my internal Mission Control goes silent. No more things to do. All is quiet. Peace at last.
After a moment or two in this alternative universe, boredom would come for a visit, most likely. I would find myself daydreaming of new missions to accomplish.
Hmmm. We’ll probably never know, will we? But, for now, I better get busy. My list is long. This IS the Christmas season after all. No time to rest.