The past month was hands-down the loonngggest month I’ve endured in my entire life. Margaret (my wife) had cataract surgery on both eyes, and I voluntarily put all my own activities (PRSA Tampa Bay in particular) on hold so that I could be around just in case…
The “good” news is everything has gone well with the surgery and recovery. The “interesting” (for me) news is that I now have indisputable confirmation that I am a living, breathing vampire.
But this past May confirmed it.I absolutely, positively, no-two-ways-about-it NEED “fresh blood.” I have to have living, breathing human beings around me. I feed off their enthusiasm…their own thirst for knowledge…their energy.
I’ve also learned through this recent exercise that my mind literally (or figuratively…your choice) shuts down when I’m deprived of this energy source.
This discovery presents an equally interesting challenge for me as I continue to settle into my “Communication Professor – Retired” role. I love doing new things…coming up with new ideas or new ways of doing something.
My operating theory over the years has sort of been “If it’s not broken, it WILL break at some point, so go ahead and fix it.” I absolutely love taking a program or an activity that is doing well and figuring out how to make it even better.
In my mind (at least), it’s easy to fix a broken program…it’s BROKEN. DUH! But a program that’s chugging along nicely. That’s a new level of challenge.
One of my first realizations of this “quirk” came when I was a Public Affairs Intern for the US Army’s Training and Doctrine Command at Ft. Monroe, Virginia. I was given an assignment to the Command’s editorial branch (where training manuals were created for the various skills taught to soldiers).
About two or three weeks into the assignment, I developed a sense that the form used for “grading” drafts of training materials, while “okay,” could be better. So I created a new form.
Initially I just used it for my own purposes, but a co-worker happened to see what I was doing and how quickly I was able to get results. She asked if she could have a copy of the form…then another co-worker noticed…then another. Pretty soon the entire department had discarded its years-old system and had adopted something that a wet-behind-the-ears intern had developed. Wound up getting a letter of commendation from the head of the editorial branch for my contribution to the operation’s success.
But I accomplished this while soaking in the energy of those around me. And this practice has continued throughout my professional and academic careers. Especially in academia, where I was surrounded by young inquiring minds looking for guidance as they were forging their own career paths, I was in vampire heaven! Just walking into a classroom was enough to recharge my brain and get me thinking of as many ways as possible to make things interesting/better.
So there’s my challenge. I’m in a different “place” now and have to seek out opportunities that will put me in direct contact with living, breathing, creatively-thinking human beings.
I’m a vampire!!