Overwhelmed and Yet . . .
I've been (once again) trying to catch up on my magazine reading - mostly political in nature - and I've been trying to keep up with the many email lists I am subscribed to - again mostly political in nature - and I've become, well, disenchanted.
I used to think that by "getting involved" I could make a difference, have an impact, help move along real change. And while I still believe that I'm getting frustrated with the enormity of the situation. That is, I try to stay on top of so many issues, and the mere fact that there are SO many issues to keep up with, that I'm overwhelmed by all that needs to be done.
It's like when I was a kid and my mother would tell me to clean up my room. Usually she didn't bother making me clean it up until it was a disaster area, so when I went into my room I would suddenly be struck with a terrible feeling of dread, of hopelessness. How would I ever be able to clean this WHOLE room all by myself? It just wasn't possible! And so, usually, for the first 20 minutes (or maybe it was an hour - Time has no meaning for a child) I would simply fall onto the floor and cry.
Well, that's kind of where I'm at right now. I just want to fall on the floor and cry because I just don't see where I fit in. I don't see where I can help because the need is so great and I don't know where to start. I want to do it all and yet, right now, I'm really doing very little.
It's like my booklist. I have this list of books that no matter how many books I read off of it the list never seems to get shorter. Well, sometimes I get really excited about a book or two that I've found and I add it to the list of "to read" but I feel like I can't wait and I toy with the idea of reading several books at once. But I know that I can't do that because I'd be short-changing myself by trying to keep up with the plots or arguments of several books at once. I'd get confused, then frustrated and wouldn't enjoy any of them. Instead, I finish reading my current selection and then move onto the next title. I don't find myself wishing for fewer great books to read, just more time to devote to reading them.
So I think the answer is to go local and to pick something or someone I want to give some of my time to. And then, I think maybe it's time for me to figure out what one or two "causes" I really and truly care about, the ones I feel most passionate about and think I will have the most impact on - those are the one or two things I should focus on. While I don't want to become ignorant with regard to all things political - there is after all a VERY IMPORTANT election coming up in 2008 - I think I need to take a step back and stop getting so worked up over it.
Yes, I think that's the answer, at least for now. Going local. Going small. More is not always better. While my intentions are honorable, they are ineffectual because I they have no focus and I feel scattered, as if I know a little about a lot of things and not a lot about anything.
So I'm going to go read now. I'm reading an amazing novel, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, about a very scary future that isn't really that far-fetched. Kind of Orwell, 1984-esque but in a different world, a world where women have become nothing but vessels for procreation or beings well-suited for domestic work. It's a frightening and intriguing tale and I'm going to go back to it.
Because while I've been going a bit crazy doing so many other things, I haven't been reading enough - I haven't been doing what I want to do enough.