June 02, 2006

The Trichotomy that is my life

Yup, this is all about me.

I have never felt the demarcation, the boundary lines, the absolute separateness of my life as much as I have this week and at this particular moment. It isn't a dichotomy, it is a trichotomy (is that even a proper word?). At least three separate spheres, all of which are totally different, totally apart from each other. I just got off the phone with my wife to learn that the Boy Child has now officially gone an entire week with no, what exactly shall I call it, premature urination in the bed. The excitement I felt about that was probably all out of proportion to its importance, but still. It brought home, the excitement did, that I lead three different lives.

Life One -- Work. I spend a fair amount of time at work or thinking about work or hating my job or contemplating new career possibilities. Either way, I'm here and for large parts of it, don't want to be. Welcome to being a grownup -- you have bills, you have responsibilities, you don't always have to like it. Although I am in the process of trying to fix that.

Life Two -- Family. I am very involved with my children and love being with them and taking care of them and I delight in watching their brains grow and their accomplishments continue. Totally divorced from work, mind you. Totally compelling.

Life Three -- Me. I have a very involved personal life outside of work and outside of the family. Just in the past two weeks alone, I have: attended a couple of cocktail parties; met and chatted with an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court; had a private lunch with the US Army officer who took over command at a certain infamous US Army Prison in Iraq in order to clean up the place after Military Intelligence made such a huge international hash of it; took part in a private viewing of pattern plates used by the printer/engraver in the creation of Audubon's Birds of America, the single most important work of an American naturalist; and have had several interesting other experiences. This is a rich life and a source of tremendous intellectual stimulation. The blog sort of fits more in here than anywhere else. When I reflect back on it, I am a lucky guy.

But all three of these things are lived primarily in isolation from each other. Very little contact between these spheres. I don't know if it is a natural occurrence but I do know that the lines dividing these things run very strong.

Do others feel this way? Or are other people better at integrating their lives, work, and family together?

Posted by Random Penseur at June 2, 2006 11:30 AM | TrackBack

RP - Here's my philosophy - I enjoy my work sometimes. Sometimes, not so much. It isn't always all that and a bag of chips. But I do it so that I have the money to do the things I enjoy - Travel, time with family, friends, the music scene, et cetera.

We're not so different in that regard. I think everyone is like that to a certain degree. I work to live, I don't live to work.

Triptych might be a better word, eh?


Posted by: Mark at June 3, 2006 05:03 PM

I definitely keep my work seperate from everything else in my life. It's important to me that I make that seperation. Of course, my work isn't nearly as interesting as yours seems to be. I don't talk about one while I'm in the other. Of course, that may just be a reflection of my near-psychotic need for privacy.

Posted by: primal at June 5, 2006 07:21 AM

For me, the lines are somewhat blurred simply because several of my good friends are also co-workers. I interact with them at the office and at their homes. We try to leave work "at work" so that our social times are not an extension of the office, but something entirely different and on a more personal level. Sure, the office will intrude from time to time, but that usually occurs when we are verbally slicing and dicing other employees.

As for integrating my family into these situations? Well, most places don't take kindly to pets so I tend to not integrate my '3-legged family' into these other lives.

I think it's fantastic that you have "Me" things that you do because it is my opinion that everyone needs these kinds of activities. Being a husband and father is monumentally important, but you also have to remain faithful to "RP" and all that makes him who he is.

Not sure I've really answered the question you've posed, but hey, I never pass up an opportunity to offer my opinion. :)

Posted by: Howard at June 5, 2006 11:24 AM

I think that everyone, to a certain degree, compartmentalizes their lives. I simply cannot be "Mommy" all the time; yet I know that I am a mother 24/7. This was one of the most difficult things to get used to once I started working from home. I no longer had a commute to "switch gears," I was at work and I was at home and I could not run away from either. Heh. Not that my job is a career or very important. . .but you take my meaning.

And I have always been a social creature -- apart from my being a typist, wife, mother, what-have-you -- and especially despite my age and weight status. God bless the Internets.


P.S. Your pixilated words radiate how interesting you are and what a wonderful person you are. . .at least they do to me. But then again, I've always been guilty of reading far too between the lines.

P.P.S. xoxo

Posted by: Margi at June 5, 2006 11:27 AM

Yeah I definitely feel this way.

At my previous place of employment I wasn't, for the most part, sociable with my coworkers. Most of my communication was direct and to the point. My laughter came in the form of practical jokes played to keep my amused. I'm a fairly social creature and luckily I was able to spend quite a bit of time talking to clients. This however earned me a pretty nasty reputation.

Socially, I've always kept multiple social lives, basically several different groups that wouldn't typically interact, such as working on race cars, the heading to a cocktail party the next night, then off to the beach music festival. (This of course has slowed down a bit with the hatching of the phinlet). Each serves somewhat of a purpose and helps me to unwind depending on my mood / interests at the moment.

Then to the house where I'm me and there aren't very many demands if the trash has been taken out, dinner has been fixed and the phinlet's been changed.

The bad, or maybe it's good, part of is I don't know how I'd react if they were woven a bit more tightly together. As sociable as I am I also like my space, where I'm able to focus on whatever task is at hand.

Posted by: phin at June 5, 2006 04:17 PM

I thought I was so good at keeping all this stuff separate but soon found out different. I was so scared of being alone when I quit work. Somehow in the tracking of each of my lives, can you believe I had forgotten about Hub? Forgot that he would be home with me to keep me company, joke with me, laugh with me. I had even forgotten what good company he could be. Just so involved in work that I had quite forgotten that other life. But I feel confident that in you situation, your keen awareness will not allow you to forget any one of your three-in-one lives.

Posted by: Roberta S at June 5, 2006 08:49 PM
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