Friday, March 31, 2006

Curse of the Drinking Classes

The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one. – Oscar Wilde

What do you do when you are stuck? When the walls are closing in on you and there seems to be no alternate route out? When your window is closed with Plexiglas and even though you can see happy people outside and warm, sunny weather, you can’t smell it because there is no way to break though the Plexiglas? Like a fly shut inside a locked window, you stare out and you drool.

Unemployment is capitalism's way of getting you to plant a garden. – Orson Scott Card

All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind. - Aristotle

Have I always been this way? Stuck and unable to open the window? Am I really like Angelina Jolie in that I have always longed to get through the window to some place else? Should I, like Angelina, get a tattoo of a window put on my back and then have it removed once I learn to, like Angie did, live outside of that window? And how does one learn how to live outside the window when one is not superhumanly beautiful, well-connected, talented and wealthy?

If hard work were such a wonderful thing, surely the rich would have kept it all to themselves. – Lane Kirkland

I have this vivid memory of being 15 years old and waiting for the school bus to arrive. I was living with my father in Bloomington, Indiana and we had a cool retro 70s house at the end of a quiet cul de sac. I hated (still do) getting up early so I was grumpy and feeling put upon. It annoyed me that I had to spend every day inside surrounded by gaggles of jocks, cheerleaders, metal heads and meatheads. I had this sneaking suspicion that I could do more with my time. (Eventually, this led me to drop out of high school a year later and go to college at age 16. I never got a high school degree and I never looked back.)

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them. - Henry David Thoreau

There was a field near the bus stop and an older woman was walking her dogs in the tall grass. It was one of those perfect spring mornings where the thick golden light shone through the transparent stalks and reflected off the tiny budding flowers and the light layer of dew. It was almost too bright and too beautiful. The woman seemed relaxed and her dogs rushed through the field with their tongues hanging out, so happy to be alive and free and running. I was so jealous of this woman. It was obvious she was in no hurry. She had nowhere to go, nowhere to be and nothing burdening her in any way. She was just walking her dogs like she did every single morning.

Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it. – Buddha

I have spent my entire life trying to achieve this aimless, dog walker status. My favorite jobs have been funny part time ones such as bartending, projecting, catering and film festivals. You work late nights at odd times and you get to sleep in late and have the entire morning to slowly open your eyes, get ready to face the day, read the paper, and nurse a large pot of tea. I am just not one of those up and at ‘em kind of type A people. I am one of those spacey vampire slugs who only come out at night.

Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. – Oscar Wilde

Work is the curse of the drinking classes. –Oscar Wilde

The American work week seems totally wrong to me. Working 40 hours from 9am to 5pm is like high school but worse: the monotony, the sameness of it, the fact that everyone else is doing it and clogging the stores and parks each weekend. Doesn’t it make sense that our cities, such as San Francisco, would operate more smoothly if people worked different hours of the day? Then the bridges wouldn’t be crammed full of commuters all trying to get to work at the exact same time each AM and there would be no mass exodus out of there every day at 5pm. When I was working in SF and commuting, I nearly killed myself, and those were temp jobs. How do people spend lifetimes doing this?

Most are engaged in business the greater part of their lives because the soul abhors a vacuum and they have not discovered any continuous employment for man’s nobler faculties. – Henry David Thoreau

Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work. – Rita Mae Brown

So I left the city and came to a small town, and now I am still complaining. Complaining because I want to open my window and let this fresh spring air in. Complaining because it is 12pm and I wish I had just woken up as my brain is only just now starting to operate normally. Complaining because I always feel run down and sleep deprived and too, too sensitive. Complaining because I wish I was in a field of tall grass watching my dogs run off all their excess energy. Wishing I had no place to go, no phone calls to return and nothing on my plate to think about, worry about, feel responsible for or angst over. I can almost touch the tall, dew coated grass and feel the thick golden air bubbling around me like a soft cushion.

A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is a visible labor and there is an invisible labor. – Victor Hugo

One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important. Bertrand Russell

But maybe I am asking too much. Perhaps all of this is just the human condition. We work 40 hrs a week, wake up earlier than we’d like to and, if we are very lucky, we live long enough to retire and walk the dogs. And by then, we will be so beaten down, empty and tired that we will greet this free time with aimlessness and a tired nod of the head. Oh no, I am sounding so bitter! Where is my field of tall grass? I would like to run in it right now.

What we really want to do is what we are really meant to do. When we do what we are meant to do, money comes to us, doors open for us, we feel useful, and the work we do feels like play to us. – Julia Cameron

And until I find that field, I am going down to the Waterfront to take a 1.5 hr lunch with the ladies and watch a kite explode on the power lines! Yeehaw!

Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each. - Henry David Thoreau

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