What I think about when I'm working alone.
In my career, I have experienced two primary types of uncertainty. They are characteristically different in nature, and produce correspondingly distinct effects on my mood and outlook. They are uncertainty that what I'm working on will be significant, and uncertainty that what I'm working on will be noticed at all.
I am, like anyone else, motivated by self interest. I hope for some degree of public buy-in on the things that I work on and care about. I want people, and the market, to like me, and to think that the work I produce is worth paying for. And while I can be brash in certain circumstances, I remain deeply uncertain about the degree to which the market will value what I do.
But worse than that is the uncertainty of whether anyone will notice. I've spent much of my career working alone, and I accept that one needs to appreciate his own experiences outside of the possibility that anyone else cares about them. But that prospect remains a challenge to me. The idea that I will have struggled to complete things that nobody will see, that I will have felt deeply about things that nobody will be aware of, that I will have had experiences that I'll never be able to share with anyone else... it's a haunting sensation.
At the same time, there are things that are difficult to share - not because the act of sharing them is uncomfortable, but because they're not particularly relevant to anyone but myself. I write about as much of my life as I can here, but it's unclear how I would share a moment that transpired years ago and remains with me - but which, in itself, doesn't amount to much.
So, what to do? About a year ago, I brought my German Shepherd, Libo, on a weeklong trip to Northern California, where I lived 2001-2007. I got Libo later, after I had moved back to the East Coast, and going there with him was powerful in ways I hadn't anticipated. There was no way to communicate to him how lonely I was for much of my time there, and how significant it was to me that I was now able to share something about that time of my life with him. It was deeply gratifying, though the logic doesn't really add up. He had no idea where we were, and my emotional state was (I'm sure) as opaque to him then as it usually is.
Writing here is much the same. I throw bits of myself into the ether, but rarely do I hear anything back. If somebody is reading this now then I'm certainly unaware of it, and although I wish constantly for feedback, I accept that I won't always get it. It's only lonely if you call it that, but sometimes it's hard to know what else to call it.
No happy ending here. Aaaand... back to work!