Powerful words in the right context.
I am lucky enough to have just begun a research career and am experiencing the wonderful stage of ‘flow’, what psychologists term a feeling of “energised focus, full enjoyment and focus on a particular activity”. It is not that I have never had this feeling before, but this is probably the first time I have experienced it in a work context.
This is probably why Piers J. Sellers explanation of his decision to keep researching after receiving a stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis reasonated so strongly with me. (You can read his story Here)
To love what you do is an incredible privilege and nothing reveals that the passion more, than making the decision to continue your life endeavour when you know that your days are numbered.
Would I do the same? It is a question I have posed to myself since reading Sellers’ article. Probably, is the conclusion I have come up with. That realisation has offered me an unmeasurable amount of comfort that I have found my path. “What if this was it?” is now a question I can face, knowing I am no longer searching. To have that is the greatest privilege of all.
The shadowy figure’s presence is hard to fathom,
neither here, nor there, there is no driver at the seat.
Responds rather than initiates, doing only what is necessary, but no more.
Takes but does not give, there is no identification with what it means to be a part of and to have responsibility for.
The lament cannot be expressed in words, words have failed many times before.
It is, rather, an absence of willingness or ability to feel one’s responsibility as part of one’s being. To refuse to take on the default role, secure in the knowledge that others will step in.
The shadowy figure is disappearing but still lurks in many homes.
[The “Shadowy Figure” was inspired by a reference to this term by Lawrence Mooney during his interview on Radio National (29.04.16) describing the role of fathers in the home during the 1950’s]
Lately I have a new perspective on the things around me. Perhaps it is a matter of never having enough time to accomplish the things I want to do with my life, but I am starting to see everything in terms of the time a particular thing costs me. Take this sink for instance, not tidying the kitchen equated to 1/2 hour of research today! And not tidying up that half peeled off label on the flower jar – 10 mins. Of course the washing up still has to be done at some point tonight (Given that my home interior won’t be making an appearance on Instagram any time soon I’ll leave the glass jar for my next life)….but I’ll get to that when my brain has become fuzz (unless hubby does first ;)).
It is fair to say that most “homemakers”, “stay at home” parents and whatever other lovely term applies to those of us who spend a reasonable portion of their adult lives doing the lion’s share of the “at home” jobs without receiving a pay check have generally already worked this out, but where this approach gets really interesting is when you start applying it to the multitude of consumer items available on the market out there. Let’s start small, a new clothing item – 1 hours work, a new piece of furniture – 5 – 10 hours work, new sofa – 1 week of work. Going up to the bigger items, a swimming pool for instance would set you back perhaps 70 weeks of work or more when you account for tax.* Putting aside the actual amounts, which of course differ depending on one’s “value” in the market, you get the picture. All the items and possessions, as well as purchased experiences, can be translated into a time value to obtain it. Unless you fall into the category of people whose “value” in the market is so exceedingly high no thought needs to be given to this exercise (though arguably another sobering exercise can be undertaken in this case, being the cost of time (and perhaps other things) required to get to this value and maintain this value for one’s working life), it starts to appear as though we are spending “time” on consumer goods like we have unlimited amounts. Given that “time” is the one thing of which we can be pretty certain is limited for us, perhaps it is time for a rethink. Give it a go and see, ask yourself the question – what do you value more than the time it equates to getting it. If it doesn’t add up, then perhaps it is not necessary!
* (I am assuming here a pay of $40 per hour and a 35 hour work week).
Alanis Morissette’s sublime album ‘Jagged Little Pill’ has been my album of the week this week. Her words ‘I recommend biting off more than you can chew’ and ‘you live, you learn’ are piercing still in their brutal honesty of a way of living which we still 20 years later shy away from, to our great detriment. This surely has to be one of the greatest lessons as we progress on our path of life, that learning does not happen when we sit still safely in our nests. Learning happens when we take the plunge and try to fly, even when we fall bruised and battered to pick ourselves up and move forward.
Words that reach inside me….
Louise Erdrich: “……Writing has saved my life.”
Erdrich: “By transforming the madness I have in me.”
From: Louise Erdrich, The Art of Fiction No. 208″ interview by Lisa Halliday, The Paris Review, 2010.
Sometimes all you need is to read one well written article which makes you laugh and feel inspired. Tina Fey’s account of her experiences at Saturday Night Live in the New Yorker hits that spot! Have a read, and a laugh, and enjoy the rest of your day.