Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why Compartmentalize?

summer moodImage by AlicePopkorn via FlickrI hear people talk about the ability of some individuals to compartmentalize, to separate the various facets of their lives into compartments.  There are some benefits.  I learned how to do it when I was working.  On my long drive to work I shifted my mental gears and left the home and family concerns and took up the work concerns until late afternoon when I reversed the process.

For years I did not understand why my husband was so short on the phone when I called him at work.  At work one day I had a sudden epiphany when one of my children called me:  the gear shifting process takes a few minutes.  I couldn't integrate the compartments.

Those separations or compartments were easier to understand than the ones I deal with now.  My situation has changed and so has the need for compartmentalization.  I still think of myself in one compartment as a single or widowed female.  My attitudes and associations are directed toward my needs as a woman alone.

The second compartment in my life includes my housemates.  I invited my daughter and her daughter to move in with me after my son-in-law died suddenly.  Carol, my daughter, is disabled and she requires a lot of assistance.  My granddaughter Sarah attends college and lives with me too.  We have some juggling to accommodate all the needs, and we are not yet a smoothing functioning machine.  Maybe with time and practice that will improve.

My private activities include writing, building and flying kites, making bread, attending church functions, and research for writing and information.  These are a sub-categories because they aren't always compatible.  I research things I don't intend to write about.  I attend church functions I don't enjoy.  In this part of the compartmentalization there is a fluidity that brings some things to prominence and allows other to fade.   Kites and writing may join for a while, and then separate again when the poem is finished.  Making bread and going to church dinners may join hands but not form a permanent bond.  Genealogy got put on the back burner, but it will have a spotlight again.  Some things are fun to share, and some are too personal. 

Compartments are the way I think about my life.  I feel like I am entertaining some kind of schizoid fantasy when I try to sort it out, but it seems to work.  I can accomplish some things almost in secret and others I advertize and shout about.  Together they keep me active and interested and engaged in life.  At my age this is important!



3 comments:

Hannah said...

I think compartmentalizing is a big part of being a wife and mother. I never thought about how much my hubby must have to do it, too. Thanks for getting me thinking today!

King of New York Hacks said...

Active, interested, and engaged...love it...so simple yet we can drift from that so very quickly sometimes...so true though...all the different life events determine how I must compartmentalize using different methods and then reflect on them and laugh at how I always could have done it better but keep trying nonetheless...always love your posts..Thanks Gayle : )

Gayle Haynes said...

I love readers and comments. Thanks to Hannah and King Edward!