It's not the elephants that'll kill you. It's the gnats.
So goes the punchline of a story I carry around inside me, a story told to me by someone to whom it was told. I don't think I read it somewhere, but honestly, after all this time I don't even know any more. A friend returns from safari in Africa and, asked about the dangers of the wild, responds, "it's not the elephants that'll kill you. It's the gnats."
If I've been quiet for a while, it's because I have been engulfed in a maelstrom of gnats, unable to see, do or think anything beyond the very immediate task of meeting sequential utterly insane deadlines at work. The November holidays -- Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and the day following -- are theoretically lovely; unfortunately, the deadlines I labor under have no care for holidays. They piss on holidays, in fact. So I've wound up in my office the last two Sundays, in my desperate quest for gnat-free air.
The job is gnats right now. Pesky. In my face. Inescapable but for moments. Its real value to me right now -- other than supporting us in the reduced style to which we have become accustomed -- is that it is such a constant reminder of how much this is not the end-all for me. It keeps my determination, when I'm not exhausted, clearly focused on something else.
The gnats have been eating my brain lately, it's true, sucking every ounce of my energy. Which makes me pretty boring.
So I've been reading, trying to fill my head with some sound other than the buzzing, pretty words on the 925 pages of 1Q84 and now The Phantom Tollbooth.
I feel a wind coming, a wind that will blast the bugs away. In the meantime, I'm sitting here, resisting the temptation to swat wildly at them, conserving forces, making plans.