Some people count sheep; I count ideas. I get carried away with them. Dancing around me, they wrap me in their tight cocoon, comfort me, and wait for me to emerge with a new take on things. Here, in this cool dark spot, I take solace when life seems out of control. In my cocoon, I ponder enormous things like why the caged bird sings, and how people survive under oppression. But as a lover of ideas, I wonder: what is my role in society?
It seems to me that the world is constructed from idea-play-doh, and our job is to mold it. As an idea person, I discovered that I could only take so many ideas into my hands before I, and my ideas, crumbled.
My learning curve: I go from unlimited in idea-land, to realizing that my human body can only live out YES to so many ideas before running out of gas.
So here’s how the play-dough conflict looks back in reality, outside of my cocoon.
Inbox, 9AM: 300 new messages.
“Hey Tim,” I read. “Would you like to be a part of Riverside Church’s foray into ecological sustainability?” I believe that environmental sustainability is an incredibly important issue, so I quickly agree and punch in YES.
Another email flashes through my inbox.
“Hey Tim,” I read, “would you like to shape the brand of, and create the website for, a new essay writing program for teens?” Yes.
“Hey Tim, would you like to be a member of the youthinkgreen board?” Yes.
“Hey Tim, would you like to…”
“Hey Tim, do you have time for..…”
YES. Yes. yes.
I watch as my calendar fills. I am busy, but excited. Each idea gives me a new high, a new chance to make an impact, another opportunity to mold that massive hunk of play-doh. Each idea is a new stop on the train to progress – all I see is a blur. Projects go by faster and faster. I realize I can no longer concentrate on everything I wish to. Life is too full. I am being pulled apart — my convictions telling me one thing, my cognition another. I want so desperately to be able to give, but I am only human.
Subject Line: Chair of the Theatre of the Oppressed Advisory Board. Theatre of the Oppressed, led by Jeremiah Drake, is a group that provides a voice to, well, the oppressed. My church had collaborated with this amazing program many times: We built faces out of found art, told stories about asylum seekers, and discussed complex issues – all using theater.
Now Jeremiah is asking me to serve as its chair. I am scared, thrilled, and then scared again. The idea intrigues me; I care so deeply about the program, and want to ensure its growth. But as far as I am aware, no one has yet figured out how to add more than 24 hours to a day, and I know that I’d soon be running on empty.
I wrestle with my soul, questioning myself, questioning my motives. I can fit one more idea into my schedule, can’t I? I know that I can only push myself so much but I also know, or rather, I choose to believe, that anything and everything is possible. So I am stuck, not knowing what to do.
I sit, lit only by the cool white glow of my computer screen. My hands rest on the keyboard, pondering what key to jump to next. One finger lands on the glowing N, quickly followed by a tap to the letter O. My cursor is brought to the send button, moved as if by the mystical force behind a Ouija stone. And then it is done. My heart slows, my breath is regained, and I am awake.