My Kingdom for an Even Keel? (TESTHEAD)

On March 12, 2012, in Syndicated, by Association for Software Testing

One of the interesting things about a relationship, especially one that you have had for over 20 years, as in the case of my wife Christina and I, is that you often overlook things that each other does. We had a discussion about this tonight during dinner. I’m not sure what precipitated it, but I was talking about how I had to get some stuff done, and that it would be a good time to “knock out some Pomodoros”. I said this mostly to myself, but she heard it and asked me “what are Pomodoros?” I then proceeded to explain to her the whole concept behind using a timer to designate breaks and focused work. She nodded, said OK, and then we changed the subject, but I noticed she was a little on edge.

Later, as I was cleaning up the dishes, I asked her if everything was OK. She looked at me and said “You know, something between complete silence and information overload would be really nice sometimes.” That’s a paraphrase, and I don’t meant to make it sound negative, but we were together making a point. This has been part of who I am most of my life. Either I am absorbed in quiet thought and non-communicative, or I am spilling out words at 100 miles an hour. Either I am running on all cylinders and blazing down the track with frightening energy and speed, or I am crashed out asleep. Well, not quite crashed out asleep, but there is a definite unevenness to the way I do a lot of things, and I have to be aware and careful of what I pick up and what I commit to doing.

I compare this to Christina, who works in a very different manner than I do. She is very middle of the road in the things that she does, and she has the presence of mind to know she likes it that way and works to make sure she can keep that “even keel”. Christina is the type of person that will learn she is teaching a class at church in a month, and then spends a little bit of time each and every day working on her lesson plan for that one hour presentation. She doesn’t do a lot at a time, but she does a few minutes here, a few minutes there, and spreads it out among the other things she does. By result, she tends to navigate her life in a fairly straight line.

On the other hand, I have been a creature of riding the waves. Often times I get into situations that will require a Herculean amount of effort, or that will have me engaged in several things simultaneously. Often I do well in this regard, and other times I crash into walls. The net result is that I am very much one who does a lot of high intensity, endorphin releasing activity, but it’s also followed by fallow periods where I then have to build back into the frenzy. I realized a long time ago that this is a manifestation of ADD, and I’m OK with that. When I was younger, I used medication to try to control these wild swings and give me a more even keel, but ultimately, I decided that I liked the wild swings. With the even keel, I could be consistent, but I also felt a lot less creative, and I ultimately felt like my output was mediocre. It was certainly stable, and I could pass tests and get good grades, but I don’t think that it would have helped me reach some important things in my life if I didn’t have the waves to work with. I don’t think I would have ever written the songs I did, taken the chances to be a musician, or gone in a number of other quixotic directions that ultimately informed and helped shape my life. It was a safe route, and I decided that I didn’t want to play it safe. It’s for these reasons I decided to not go the medication route, and just try my best to let people know that I rode waves and was very much aware of it.

It’s been over 20 years since I last medicated for this, and while I will admit, it’s still sometimes an all or nothing game with me, and I have to fight between being all in or needing to shut down for a day or two, I’ve come to accept that and take the good that comes with those challenges. Ultimately, I think I made a good trade. To those who have to deal with me on a daily basis, I guess your mileage may vary. One thing’s for certain, I’m happy to have a wife who is able to drive a boat in a straight line… it makes it possible for me to surf the waves a lot easier, and I’m grateful for that fact that, most of time, she doesn’t really mind :).


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