Goodbye little nonprofit office. Everything and nothing may happen for you in the coming days and weeks and moments while I’m losing track of measured time and instead judging my life by mood and distance, by sunset, sunrise, and the amount of home dehydrated food I have left. Hopefully you will flourish despite my absence, and I will return as a better organizer and woman than you have known before.
It’s been high time I examine what I’m doing with myself and why, for weeks now really. I spend my time on what sometimes seems like an unreasonable number of things, and manage to both get carried away by the tide of time and activity and constantly question what and why and how and when. So I did a bit of an internal audit, a review of my life and passions at present, in hopes that I will better discern my path. The whole thing is very ‘I’ centric, something I try to avoid but of course cannot when examining my motivations for action and persistence.
What I’m wondering is this: What am I doing with my life right now? Why am I doing it? What do I want to be doing more of? Less of?
I have a handful of blurbs to answer these questions, and rather than post an absurdly lengthy single piece, will share it with the cloud over the next week or so. Following is the first. Any insight from readers on what you hear underneath what I am saying about how I should be spending my energies would be much appreciated, critical or otherwise.
I’m working at the Community Council. I spend a lot of time at the computer, on email, sitting and typing and just generally being remarkably sedentary. I want to do less of this. However, I also spend a good amount of time in meetings. I enjoy the smaller meetings, the informal ones where I get to catch up and connect and problem solve. I really like biking to various things, working with the Transition Town group, and doing the interviews with people for the Energy Resilience Group eblast. I’ve also enjoyed learn about and having an effect on zoning and development in the neighborhood- it’s crazy work to be doing considering the fact that I’m not at all educated in planning, but it’s interesting and important and I feel like my role as community organizer matters in processing information from the city for the neighborhood to get people involved in more complicated things that are actually really important.
Today is Labor Day, one of many holidays that I often accidentally ignore because I’ve never had any particular reason to deeply consider why I had the day off from school/work/whatever. But thanks to the wonders of Facebook and several great postings from my friends and organizations, I find myself actually considering Labor Day and how we might celebrate such a proletariat holiday in our present world.
Work can be beautiful. I am a huge proponent of creating with one’s hands, sweating, connecting, building something for the future. I even wrote a paper for a Communication Studies class in college on Benedictine monks and their order’s philosophy of prayer through work. Work can be a meaningful and even spiritual act of love for the world.
However, with a tanking economy, environment, job market, etc etc, it should be obvious that we need to revise the world of labor, to rethink what a job is and how it fits into our lives. The definition of work cannot be limited to a conventional job, and how much more work do we need in our lives anyway?
On this nearly five day weekend (I don’t work on Fridays, Saturdays, or Tuesdays, and only worked five hours this past Sunday) I have found myself emmeshed in guilt at my extensive amount of leisure time. I have spent hours reading, conversing with friends, eating delicious food, biking about the Cities, volunteering at a marvelous local brewery (and drinking beer all the while) and just generally enjoying myself while doing almost nothing that is conventionally viewed as ‘productive’. But why should leisure feel like a guilty pleasure?
One’s primary work should be creating a life worth living, and the relationship building and vocational exploration that comes along with it. Leisure and work should not be mutually exclusive, and should in fact be deeply intertwined. Our standard of living should adapt to the true needs and wants of humanity, and our ‘work week’ should adjust accordingly.
Today let us celebrate those who labor, paid and unpaid, official and otherwise. And let us also redefine what work is valuable and how it might fit into a holistic, beautiful, connected life.
My box and broom are not finer than my faith; my prayers unmade are better than the slender seams of my clock. I know wood’s moan and ring all day. I dream myself as a tambourine in hand. My friend, there is no morning lacking a tonic loveliness; no night without its apocalypse. Monotony’s drumbeat I play out with what I’ve got: pith, thistle, and knife. What I build has the beauty of sparrows pecking frozen ground. It is my salvation, my cross, my song. I once loved the daughters; longed to lick my salty deeds. These chairs I make are my repentance. The spirit in them is revelation, the coming harvest, my need. The evening silence is the only god I know. Like dust occupying sun, He settles. Let the daughters sing. Their voices sand my heart down to a seed.
I’ve been craving the holy, longing for the spiritual, reading Thich Naht Hanh and The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating. Truth and beauty are in the every day, the extraordinary is that which we almost miss, these things I know. But in the midst of summer chaos and constant movement, the moments I remember to stop and breathe are far fewer and further between than I’d prefer.
This lovely prose poem highlighted today on Poetry Daily speaks to what I’m longing for, I think, for finding solace in work, peace in the doing and contemplation at once. May it help both you and me be present today.