“River running free…”

“…you know how I feel.”

Actually, it is tears that are running at the moment. Hot shower, followed by tiger balm in an effort to clear sinuses. Working, but with some mild discomfort.

Anyways, this will be short, given the hour. Not sure that I have had a 7 day run here before and wanted to see that through. Alas, tomorrow is back to work… at that job.

Even so, there have been advances, none miraculous (to fall back to the old days of quoting Deadwood). Worthy of new breath though, and encouraging.

But that is all I have to say about that. For now.

Rather, I will keep on with the song, for those that did not catch it earlier, here is another chance…

“It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day…”

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“The frightening thing…”

“…is not dying. The frightening thing is not living.”              ~ T. Bone Burnett

HumbleBeaver

Thanks to Nuggets for providing this inspiration over the years.

We have this little white, dry erase marker board on our fridge. Two actually, but that is beside the point. Essentially we use them to write down items in lists, you know like groceries that need getting and chores that need doing. This is not an uncommon thing.

The one that I was thinking about when I started this I used to have on a different fridge, in a different house, and mostly it was used as place to write down thoughts and sayings. Quotes like the snippet of song used as the title and intro to this post. Which, by the way, is written on that little white board now. It is not something I have done in a while and a couple of weeks ago, when I heard that line, the refrain to a song, I wrote it on the board. It seemed important.

Since, I read it and think about it every day. It is important. It is like when you are doing a puzzle and you find a particular piece that you can tell is going to play a major part in pulling the whole thing together… you just don’t know yet quite where it fits. So you set it aside, in a prominent place, and keep working on the puzzle, checking back in with it now and again to see if it makes any more sense in the bigger picture.

There is another saying on our fridge, this one on a small business card-like piece of card stock. This too has been with me for some time. I do not think about it as often, but still do on a regular basis. This one is not so much of a mystery to me; I worked it into my life a long time ago. This saying, from my days studying Aikido all those years ago, says, “Breathing is the bridge between the mind and the body.”  I leave it on the fridge because it is always good to have a reminder now and again. Breathing too, is important.

I have had trouble breathing today. Not in some esoteric, mystical sense, but as an inconsistently recurring side effect of this maddeningly persistent illness I have been trying to manage. I am familiar with the feeling. I spent a lot of time as a child having trouble breathing. It is an unsettling experience.

~ ~ ~

Over the years, I have scribbled thoughts and random doodles in notebooks. I have them stashed here and there, some on book shelves, most in boxes. There are two running around the house now, one from around this time last year and another that is active. The one from last year should just get put away somewhere, as it was more of an experiment where I tried to journal each morning, something that I have never been very good at. It is mostly just random thoughts that do not really go anywhere, kind of like looking back at the nonsense I post on facebook over the years.

In the active one, I have been trying to put down ideas, generally no longer than a page. Thoughts that I have been batting around that I want to capture in order to ponder them more at some later date. As yet, I have not gone back through any of them, but I still have a general sense of the rough narrative that is playing out.

One of the themes that those writings have been working towards is the question of relation between self and others. Forgive, me, I know that is both vague and seemingly simplistically obvious at the same time. That is why it is just a theme at this point… because I am not sure where it is leading me yet. It has been bugging me a lot though.

The form this question has been playing with today revolves around the idea of happiness. To clarify, as best I can at the moment, it has been asking after the value of happiness for the self as weighed against happiness of the group.

Let me back up a bit.

The sole comment I received after yesterday’s blog post was from the Wife. It was sort of off-hand, almost a non sequitur, and essentially stated that, to certain Catholics (I presume the more devout ones…), marriage is viewed as a vocation. Perhaps akin to the life of a priest, or a nun.

Still not quite sure how to respond, but the more snarky side of me thought, “OK, husband, father, I like those things. Deal. I will do that then.” Which of course I am already doing, but I think you know what I mean… or maybe it will become clearer as this rambles along.

~ ~ ~

So then, today, I can’t breathe well, the Wife thinks that cleaning the house will help, and she may well be right, but the dogs were making me nuts and I was in no condition to help and the Boy was mostly underfoot and so I opted to load him into the stroller and head out for some different air, hoping that it might help repair the faltering bridge.

Turns out, this was a good plan. He was mellow and watched the world go by, I could focus on breathing and putting one foot in front of the other and thinking.

It went something like this…

I really do not like my job. Sort of a given. I was very hesitant to accept it, when offered it this time last year. In truth I did not really even want to apply for it, but did so mostly out of a compulsion towards responsibility. We had just very recently adopted a newborn after all. Carrying that sense of responsibility forward, simply quitting is an awkward option, at least without having something to replace it with.

But that is where the question of happiness comes in, in particular in regards to the question I have been fumbling with; that being, what is the relation of self to others? I am well aware that my unhappiness, often manifested as depression, is in many ways detrimental to others, and in this case “others” particularly means the Wife and Boy. So, would I be happier not continually participating in the undesirable activity of working a job I really no longer want anything to do with?

In some ways, likely, yes. In others, well, what of that innate sense of responsibility? What role am I to then play in regard to the “others”? Well, there is the husband/father bit… Of course, that does not really pay quite the same. But there are benefits to be sure. Even so, I am going to do those jobs regardless, they are not actually jobs. The question I have to ask myself is, how well am I doing them now, burdened as I am with the other? I do not know how to not bring it home, along with stress and anxiety and distraction and an unhealthy response of attempting to drink it away.

I have ideas of what would replace that work, but do not want to give voice to them quite yet.

A quandary to be sure. I am trying to find out, but am still not quite sure what all this looks like… I do know that there is that puzzle piece that keeps my attention, just have to figure out where it fits I guess.

 

 

Off kilter

yukon bootprintPart 1.

Balance

One winter I took up curling. You know, that wonky game/sport/activity that is played on ice, is not quite bowling and not quite shuffleboard. I had been curious for some time and decided to finally just jump in and try it out. This was a number of years ago now and came on the heels of a particularly tumultuous spring/summer. I have written about it some; at first directly, here, and then a bit more obliquely, here.

One of the reasons I gave it up was because I was frustrated at not being very good, despite the fact that I did rather enjoy it. I recognized that in order for me to get any better I would have to actually devote some time and effort to getting better, which essentially meant curling more often. Oddly, rather than do something I enjoyed more often in an effort to enjoy it more, I chose instead to stop doing altogether. Curious.

Sitting here now, writing this, I did not really intend to talk about curling. Rather, what has been on my mind is more along the lines of balance. An important physical element in curling to be sure, but that is not quite what I mean. I would say it is more related to the unfortunate phrase, work/life balance. However, that does not really get to the heart of it either.

As I have noted here recently, I have been sick a lot these past couple of months. Once upon a time, I was loathe to take any kind of over the counter medications; I still rather dread the stuff. One of the problems I have always had relates to the concept of efficacy. Do they actually work? Well, I suppose it depends on what you are expecting them to do for you. If you want a band-aid, a simple stop-gap measure to cover up the ill effects of being ill, well, I guess they sort of can work. But that is the problem, all they really do is cover up symptoms. That is all they are meant to. To get at the root of the problem requires more.

So too with concerning one’s self with work/life balance. It seems to me.

I have made a concerted effort to generally avoid allowing details of my work to bleed over into my writing. There have been times when I have written about certain aspects of the work that I do, or, more commonly, about various frustrations relating to the idea of work. The latter is closer to what I am rambling towards at the moment.

Part 2.

Vocation/vacation

Somehow it struck me this morning the odd relationship of those two words. I have never given much thought to the idea of vocation. Vacation, on the other hand, I frequently obsess over. And you know what, I think that there is a very strong, direct correlation between those two realities.

Vo-ca-tion: a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation.

synonyms: calling, life’s work, mission, purpose, function

Va-ca-tion: an extended period of recreation, especially one spent away from home or in traveling.

synonyms: break, time off, recess, leave, leave of absence, furlough, sabbatical

On the one hand, these seem, in a sense, diametrically opposed; one is about going to work, one is about going away from work. I think however, that in a more balanced form of the relationship, they would be either two sides of the same coin, or possibly two stages in a continuum. More frequently, I think, is the former reality; those that work, but not at a vocation, frequently cling desperately to the hope of vacation.

Which brings us back to work/life balance.

Too idealistic perhaps, but I know it is a reality for some… when engaged in a vocation the balance, it seems to me, is more about one’s energy; something like taking a break to recharge as needed, but work and life blend and support one another. Vacation might just be a change of scenery. It could even offer opportunity for new inspiration, depending on the manner of the vocation.

The flip side of course is working in a job that one does not feel “called to”, but rather does out of the overwhelming necessity of having to navigate modern society. In this case, the balance is more about how to be able to enjoy one’s life away from work enough such that continually having to do that work does not become too crushingly onerous. Here, vacation is a desperate escape, and is never long, nor sufficient, enough to strike the much needed balance.

This is a problem. It is unhealthy, and all too common. And I for one, know not quite what to do about it.

But I have to do something. It is like the opposite of the curling example. I need to decide to stop doing something that I dislike so much in an effort to enjoy life more.

To reiterate the ending of yesterday’s post… I am not sure what that looks like, but I think I should try to find out.