Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Joy of Not Working

I'm writing this on a cold, wet, sinus-swelling day here in mid-Michigan, after a quick walk outside to inspect the grounds (those last stubborn holly seedlings are still resisting greening out, but dum spiro, spero), and to quickly pop a four-pack of sweet williams into the new perennial bed before they became too sodden in their plastic container. Earlier this morning I wrote a review of Sunday's lessons, with questions for reflection, for our church blog. When I'm done with this post I might wander into the kitchen and clean up a straggle of evening dishes before they begin to multiply in worrisome ways.

It's a slow day, by both choice and circumstance. But as I sit here I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to have a slow day, in a way I didn't have when I was working for a paycheck.

What would I have done on a day like this back in the old office -- a day where I didn't feel on my game either physically or mentally? Probably a lot of purposeful action with little work product actually being done, and some surreptitious Web-surfing and subsequent self-guilting in between.

So it's a blessing, even as I'm swallowing my Advil, to enjoy the freedom of a dark, dreary day where not a lot gets done, without the looming presence of multiple bosses and incoming assignments from other people.

That's one thing. And I'm also blessed to be able to (when weather finally permits) engage in some heavy, sweaty, grunt-inducing physical labor. Who needs a weight room when pounds of soil await moving outside? Who needs special flexibility exercises when there are seeds and seedlings that must be planted, and unruly growth that must be pruned? And it's labor that results in a tangible, seeable, living result; unlike years of PR pitchmanship on the sinking boat of  increasingly irrelevant social services -- services that most of the intended recipients emphatically don't want.

So my days have a rhythm and a purpose even without a timeclock. I usually work on the church blog and its Facebook companion very early in the morning -- I'll occasionally work on drafts for other days of the week, but I haven't really gotten into multitasking here. Then FT and I have morning coffee and breakfast together and informally review the day ahead. Mondays, and sometimes another day each week, we go to church for a half day; FT works on church software issues while I check phone messages or work on my own church-related tasks. Oftentimes we pair our "church day" up with grocery shopping, since church brings us a few miles closer to Midland, or we go visit FT's elderly, infirm aunt and uncle, and help them with a few outdoor chores.  We come home and do household and outdoor work. In the early evening we like to take a family "ride" around this or that neighborhood, a ritual that we tell ourselves if for the benefit of our easily bored dog but is really about spending quality time together. FT paid a profound personal price to earn the freedom of this kind of life; but we're so thankful that we can live it.

We never don't have anything to do. The other day we were wondering how we managed when I was working 40 hours a week. And we have some big projects looming ahead, most notably finishing up work on our garage office and really, truly getting started on working with our stained glass, instead of playing around at the edges of this pastime; and, next year, getting our honeybees.

I think about looking for a paying job again -- not this summer or even fall, because our schedule is too full to attempt a new job, but sometime. I worry, not about our current living expenses, but about the future, and also about keeping my skill set sharp. I'm frankly not sure I want a job, as they say, "commensurate with my education and experience"; that's the phrase that keeps getting me into situations where my job winds up eating my life. This old dog is willing to either learn a new trick or to keep busy in some non-status-laden, non-high-commitment position; a job I can truly leave behind when I go home. (Are there even any such things left -- status-laden, high-commitment jobs?)

But in the meantime I'm happy to "chop wood and carry water" in our own little world of work here.


PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

My son is without work again, not by choice, but he wasn't happy the last month or two at that place [Big Box store, not starting with W.] He said, how do people put up with going to a factory job day after day. I tried to explain to him that no job is without a down side, and that some 'boring' jobs also don't have certain hassles that are a pain. But he is too young to not want a "good job" meaning some merit and some money in the job. He has, unfortunately, see bad business ethics in the jobs he has had.

Anonymous said...

I left my high-powered career 14 years ago to get married and become a homemaker. I'm still waiting for the first day of not working!