I was lucky to see Naomi Klein speak at an event here in Portland a few weeks ago. While calling on the audience to do something about the increasingly tumultuous environment we live in, she said something that stuck out to me: she said that people now move around so much that they don’t know just how drastic climate change is, that without having roots in a single space for some time, it’s hard to know when things have really changed. I think our personalities can be the same way, and I learned part of that tonight as I reunited with many old friends and spent time with my sister.
I think people get attached to Portland because most everyone has roots here before they’ve even loaded the moving van to come out: most everyone has a friend or family member who they knew that lives here. Today I saw not only my sister, but a friend from when I lived in southern California, two I went to elementary school with, another two I went to middle school with, and a few other friends from more recent times in my life as well. Talking with them it was great to learn how much some things had changed, how much people had grown and accomplished…but it was also good to know that many things stayed the same over time as well. Even seeing the two elementary friends of mine chat with each other (we all went to school together, but they hadn’t seen each other in years) was just…a bit warming.
Now that I work from home, I spend a ton of time alone. I feel like I’m increasingly becoming more isolated, more introverted, more standoffish about spending time with others. I like my workspace, I like controlling my environment, and it becomes that much harder for me to convince myself to be social. Since I’ve moved out here I’ve had multiple visits with old friends that remind me that I should be more engaged, that I shouldn’t be afraid of getting social. After all, there’s a time for hunkering down for work, and there’s a time for enjoying the people around you. Learning the difference between the two is the difference between spending quality time with your loved ones and feeling guilty while wishing you’d emailed off that last report. At least, that’s how it feels to me.
Here’s a poll question for today: do you own your own business/work from home? Do you feel it’s made you more or less social? What keeps you engaged with the people you care about?