Last week, when Mom, Grandpa, and Fran were visiting, we stopped at the Oregon state capitol in Salem. There were sidewalk tiles all around the capitol building with historical anecdotes, quirky place names, tributes to each of the Oregon counties. One in particular caught my eye, because it listed the Oregon state motto. I honestly had no idea that American states could have mottos, but there it was at my feet.
"She flies with her own wings."
Kind of a weird sentiment to describe a state, if you ask me, but the phrase has re-surfaced in my mind the past few days. I've been getting very frustrated recently, since each of the scientific projects I'm working on have stalled out at once. I've run into brick wall after brick wall, and I've been waiting for responses from collaborators for who knows how long. I've described this problem to you before, because it's been going on for over a month. Up until now, my response tactic has been to let go. I detached. I took time off. I visited friends; I re-discovered Coos Bay. I spent an entire week and a half traveling around Oregon with family.
It occurred to me yesterday that I've never had this problem in Europe. Sure, sometimes logistical issues got in the way, but it never took weeks to get a response to my e-mails. Colleagues made time for me, both in Germany and in Norway. The problem I'm having is uniquely American, at least according to my personal experience, because on this side of the Atlantic, we have a culture of overload. Each person routinely operates at their absolute maximum, so there is no time left to help others, no room to squeeze things in at the margins. We're full.
And I'm done. Done waiting, done spinning my wheels. After a month of detaching and enjoying the view, it's time for something different. I'm not exactly sure which is the healthier strategy - detachment or seizing control, patience or powering through - but this is the one I'm going to try for now. Today, I fly with my own wings.