Janet (j4) wrote,

Play for today

I was thinking about trying to do a post a day for October instead of the now-traditional NaNoNoNoNoNoThere'sNoQualityControl November thing, but the Black Dog of depression got me by the ankle and wouldn't let go. However, consider this a slightly delayed, slightly bruised and slightly frayed-metaphorical-trousered opening to the slightly tedious (for reader if not for writer, and that's a big if) task of trying to post something every day in October. Why? Because I want to get back into the habit of writing; because I have a few things I want to talk about; because you've got to do something other than sit in the dark rocking gently and chewing on a teabag, sometimes, haven't you? ... haven't you?

Part of the reason for the unexpected and unwelcome Act of Dog was the ongoing restructuring shenanigans which seem to be going on at work. I didn't expect to be so unsettled by what is effectively just a minor internal game of musical chairs, it's not as if my job is at risk (or if it is, then there are plenty of people ahead of me in the firing-line) but a) some of the specifics of the intended reshuffle didn't look like much fun from my point of view (likely move to less-interesting work; possible change of line-manager to someone I would probably find harder to work for/with) and b) more importantly, the ongoing uncertainty, rumour-mongering and indecision was making me feel as though everything was provisional, everything was planning-blighted, and everything was more pointless than usual. Being given the impression that it's not worth starting anything long-term is not good for motivation or avoiding avoidance. But a big part of the problem was that it felt as though the whole question was hanging on the whim of one or two people, and my attempts to ask serious questions about how those people were going to decide how to redraw the lines (show working!) were all met with "it's obvious, we'll take everything into consideration" (what, everything, including the completely irreconcilable wishes of lots of irrational individuals?), "how should I know?" (well, duh, it's your job to know, that's why you get paid 10K a year more than I do) and "oh, stop taking everything so seriously".

It was the last of these that upset me most, really, because a) it was said by someone whose opinion of me matters somewhat more than it should (~sigh~) and b) I really don't see myself as the sort of person who takes everything deadly seriously -- quite the opposite! I worry that sometimes I'm too quick to jump for a pun (usually innuendo) and don't always think whether it'd be better to keep my mouth shut; I'm not labouring under the delusion that what I do all day counts for tuppence in the much-vaunted Grand Scheme of Things (why isn't this Grand Scheme documented anywhere, eh?), and I don't make much secret of the fact. It is all a game; if we make a mess of it, nobody dies. But if a game is being played, I want to try to play the game, or just say "no thanks, I'd rather not play" -- not sit on the sidelines sniping at the participants, or play in a way that spoils the fun for everybody else; if I'm playing, I'll try to play within the context of the rules (playing by the rules is not breaking the rules; playing within the context of the rules is breaking them only in ways which will be understood by the participants as breaking the rules -- it's the difference between slipping an ace up your sleeve and, say, breaking up the card table with an axe, or getting up and going to the pub instead without a word of apology when it's my turn to play). I guess I do take what I do seriously, in the sense that I try to do it to the best of my limited abilities; and that applies to the process of working as well as the individual tasks of work. If you're going to have a meeting at all, don't make it a waste of everybody's time; if you're going to write project plans and report back to someone on progress, you have to at least pretend that the reports mean something. Otherwise it's like running a roleplaying game where people can just say "What are you talking about? You didn't cast a spell on me, you just rolled a couple of dice". You have to have some kind of collective suspension of disbelief; you have to believe in the fourth wall, even just a little bit, in order to break it successfully.

Maybe for some people it is more fun to undermine the game to the extent that nobody can enjoy playing it. Maybe that's their game. I don't want to play their game. But not wanting to play their game is a move in their game. (R. D. Laing totally had this one nailed. I wouldn't dream of trying to compete.)

So, I don't like being called humourless; and I don't like feeling that everything I spend my day doing is under some kind of managerial planning blight. But apart from that, Mrs Lincoln...?

Perhaps you're hoping that all this was a digression and that the real point of the post would be How I Made The Black Dog Lose Its Grip (in which the Heroine kicks the DOG in the teeth & sends it Howling into the Outer Darkness without so much as scuffing her patent-leather SHOES, &c), but no. It's still scratching at the door, and work still feels like an unstructured mess, and I'm still feeling as frayed as those metaphorical trousers (or should that be TROUSERS). The ability to weave a spun-sugar web of words around the problem doesn't change the hard centre. Traces, as they persist in saying, of nuts.

Of course, thinking about it probably makes it worse. I guess the same goes for writing about it.

Perhaps I shouldn't take everything so seriously.
Tags: emo, play up and play the game, words, work

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