Databases and filing and avoiding intimacy

I'm starting to see more clearly that the time-consuming information-centric hobbies I used to pursue aren't really constructive on a personal level. They're justifiable, of course--it's good to be able to find things in your files--but they interfere with making connections.

During the more restful days of the holiday break, I worked on a few of these projects that I'd been neglecting for most of 2008. I organized our music collection, put the addresses of our favorite restaurants into a couple of electronic devices, and did the same with some recipes so we could pick out ingredients at the grocery store. It felt odd. These are very isolating activities; they felt natural when I led a more solitary lifestyle, but I've become more social. It felt odd, but also restful, so I decided to go with it.

Alice has a favorite saying: "the easiest way to avoid intimacy is to stay busy." Think of the classic type-A personality. Many of these people become workaholics (and the reference to addiction is appropriate here) as an acceptable way to avoid having to deal with personal matters. It applies in smaller ways too.

Some years ago I created a spreadsheet database of my music collection. If I tell it what album I'm listening to, it suggests a good segue that might be from a different genre - sort of a serendipity generator. As you might imagine, it took a lot of work to build it, and also to maintain it. It feels strange now to think back to the guy that created it. I couldn't do that now--I wouldn't choose to spend that much of my time that way. I can see that I had been letting it fill up time I should have been using to get other people's perspectives.

So when I spent part of the break diddling with restaurant addresses and recipes, I felt the urge return, like an addiction. It's easier to do those things than to navigate relationships. I had to pull myself back. This is 2009 ... not 2007.