By Trent Rentsch
It doesn’t surprise me that several mummies have been discovered lately. I’m not talking about the ones found in pyramids or underground in stone crypts around the world, I’m talking about ones like the remains of the woman in Croatia discovered several months ago sitting in a recliner in her living room, mummified. Heck, if it wasn’t for my wife and stepson here in the house, it wouldn’t surprise me to be found that way sometime in the future… dried hands still laying on the keys of my computer, 3 and a half paragraphs of my book glowing from the dusty monitor, cursor still blinking in mocking glee.
I’m not really being morbid or pessimistic… not really. My life is in transition, and until somebody decides the old man is worth hiring, I spend much of my day in my office/studio — checking out job sites, honing my writing and production skills, and yes, working on the long considered book. I don’t get out much these days, which is probably just as well, considering gas prices. But the sobering thing is how comfortable I’ve become sitting here, surrounded by my stuff, largely ignoring the world outside.
It’s a dangerous position for a Creative. Lack of interaction… the Creative well is gonna dry up, plain and simple. And more and more, there are Creatives working out of their homes, their only “face time” with clients being emails, production orders, and occasional phone calls. It was tough enough to keep the Creative coming, holed up in the radio station’s production studio all day long. Now, hidden away in one’s home, it could become a real problem. John Donne was right… humans don’t thrive when isolated from others.
I’ve decided to create my own 12 Step program to kick the drug that is isolation. While it’s designed to get the homebound Creative off their butt and interact, it certainly wouldn’t hurt the Creative in the day to day office world to add these strategies to their day too… the occasional visitor to your studio for revisions is NOT a substitute for real interaction.
Form your own network. On the surface this seems like another version of isolation, but this is the first baby step. Get on the internet and join one of the endless radio forums available. Jump into the conversation, pay attention and find like-minded people. Then begin writing them personally, with the intent of starting a group that can interact in a more personal, day-to-day level. Not everybody is up for this, but you’d be surprised how many people are. Create your own little email group, and encourage discussion… or just plain old silliness. A group of folks in the same boat can be a strong anchor for each other, whether it’s sharing ideas for how to handle a script, or sharing a goofy song parody. Not only will it get a connection going to the outside world, but networking might even open opportunities in the future that you never imagined.
Take a walk. Outside, thank you; this isn’t a stroll to the fridge for more diet coke. Don’t think about the project at hand, don’t think about the buzz in your pre-amp… in fact, it’s best to try to clear your mind completely and simply be. Smell flowers, feel the wind, watch people, take it all in… no thinking, just soak it up. Relax, put a smile on your face, and give yourself a walk. It might not be a people connection (although you never know what a walk might bring), but it’s a step outside your cave into life and the real world.
Get a cup of Joe. Again, this isn’t a mug of your favorite home brew, this means walking or driving somewhere for a hot cup served up by another human being. Talk to that person behind the counter, if only for a minute or two. “How’s your day?” “What blend would you suggest?” “You been busy (or slow) like this all day?” Ask questions like these and you might just have some real interaction with another human… or not, but at least you tried. And don’t just buy and run, sit down, sip, soak up the environment, feel life happening. If coffee isn’t your thing, how about a shake, or tea… doesn’t matter as long as you’re not using the drive thru and are actually hanging with other humans.
Do lunch. This is a step beyond having coffee, because you’re going to eat with a friend or relative. Call somebody you used to work with, or your brother, or your wife and invite them out for lunch. I didn’t realize just how important this could be until a friend called me earlier this summer and said we needed to have lunch since our wives had the week before. It was great on so many levels. I got out of the house. I spent time with a friend who lives outside the Creative world. We talked about things we’ve never talked about when the wives were around (like, well, the wives). And I witnessed people doing things that will end up in a spot at some point.
Join the Club. Nobody works all the time. Even though I tell people that my hobbies ARE my profession, if I’m honest with myself I do have other interests. I mentioned magic a couple of months ago, yeah, I’m one of those “pick a card” guys. I’ve discovered a group of magicians in my area who meet a couple of times a month to perform, talk, and share their interest in magic… and I intend to join them. It doesn’t matter what you’re into, from building computers to re-building old cars, odds are there’s a group near you that gets together to share that interest. It not only gets you out of the house and interacting with others, but will also fill you up with new experiences; a few extra gallons in that Creative well. Inspiration can come from anywhere.
Like any 12 Step program, this one is a work in progress (which explains why I only have 5 steps so far). The important thing to take away from this is that we’re meant to interact with each other if we’re going to survive… and not just Creatively. Isolation… the true curse of the mummy.