Going into Research Mode

The current state of affairs at my bedside. 

The current state of affairs at my bedside. 

We’re getting a dog.

I am one part thrilled and four parts terrified by this fact.

I feel wholly unprepared to bring a dog into our home.  I do not know what to do with a dog.  I do not know how to behave with a dog.  I do not know how to teach a dog how to behave around us.  I feel reasonably confident that I can keep the dog alive.  Beyond that, I feel no particular assurance.

I know that my apprehension must surely seem rather ridiculous to seasoned dog owners.  But, I have never been a dog owner.  I am bringing essentially zero relevant experience to this situation.  I am an utter neophyte, and I can see a million ways in which this could all go wrong.

I answer that fear with research.  You can read the state of my mind at any given point by a quick perusal of my bedside.  The books that rest there are physical manifestations of my questions. They speak to my current state of curiosity.  And, right this moment, they are rather singular in their focus.

I mention this, less in terms of the impending dog, but more because this is simply what I do.  Whenever I’m confronted with something new, I slip into Research Mode.  Doesn’t matter what the unknown quantity is.  It could be exciting, fear inducing or simply stymying.  Whatever it is, I have to begin with Research.

Research is the bridge, for me, between considering and accomplishing.  I can’t just jump in headlong.  I have to circle around a thing.  Mentally try it on.  Learn all the pitfalls before hand.  But, once I’ve done my investigating, I feel like I can do anything.

That’s why research is more than just learning how to do something new.  It calms me.  It emboldens me.  And, the research itself fills me up.  Yes, I learn a lot when I research. But, I also fulfill that itch to be forever in a place of beginning. I am satisfying questions and discovering a new world I hadn't encountered before.  The more working parts, the better.  Sitting down with a stack of books is thrilling to me. It is the prospect of of new puzzles and a chance to work through them.  I sometimes dream up new projects, simply for the prospect of researching and planning a strategy.

The Dangers of Research Mode

Having said all of that, I know that there is a drawback to research for me as well.  Because I find it enjoyable, I can get stuck here indefinitely, never actually moving on.  I can sink deep into the nuisances of a subject as a subtle procrastination technique.  I can hide behind my research instead of engaging in the messy work of doing.  I can stay in research mode far beyond the point when I’m entirely saturated with information.  And, worse yet, I can use research as an attempt to control the uncontrollable in my life.  More than once, I’ve tried to bury my fear beneath a pile of books and articles.

It almost works, too.  Researching is so fulfilling to me, I almost mistake the rush of the research with the actual doing. I can get such a feeling of accomplishment from it that I never get around to doing the thing I’m researching about.  Ridiculous, I know.  But, maybe there’s a dark side to every super power.

In any new endeavor, there often comes a moment of tough love with myself when I have to impose a deadline.  I simply have to put aside the books and learn in real life.  I need to make my own mistakes.  And, sometimes, I have to force myself to get out there and make those mistakes.  Not consume one more blog post or YouTube video about someone else’s lessons learned.  I have lessons of my own to learn.

And, once I do, I am unstoppable.

Plan a trip to a foreign country?  Absolutely.  Make underquilts, tarps and bug nets to go hammock camping?  Just give me a few hours with Google.  Homeschool my six children for a year?  But, of course I can.  And, yes, even, bring a dog into this hitherto fore entirely dogless home?  Yes, I suppose even that I will manage. 

Just so long as I get all these books finished in time. . .