Drudgery

I’ve been doing my blog reading in fits and bursts lately, as I am quite overwhelmed with drudgery and haven’t been in a frame of mind that supports much reading or writing. I notice that many of the bloggers I follow are in that same state of mind and place this time of year, too. It’s winter in more than one way: cold, barren, lead sky, frozen, hibernating, asleep. One shivers and is miserable sometimes.

trees1 by you.I hope for the spring but then try not to, because it’s good to stay in the moment and there’s much that’s good about winter. This winter has not been the winter I would have wanted, though. The winters I want have cozy fires made with seasoned wood, good books and good company, philosophical discussions and movies watched in a darkened room, from under a soft throw. A dog at my feet and one curled against my back. Mulled wine or cider. Mahler or Beethoven or Wagner.

This winter has not been so. It is only all about bad news every day on the news, fools running our country from both sides of the political aisle and pretending that the common-sense way one runs one’s own household is not the way we’re supposed to run our country. And then I think, “But maybe most of America is living just like that: to excess, in the red, on credit, living beyond their means, borrowing money right and left, and selling their birthrights for a mess of pottage.” Maybe so. But not this woman. Not this household, this family.

I keep my head down and plod along.

trees6 by you.

Plodding Along

It is tax time. We’ve just come through four years of such a bad economic downturn that we lay awake nights and wondered when we would go bankrupt, when we’d have to tell our employees that they would have no jobs, when we would have to pass the grief on to them and their wives and children. I had thought, before this, that the experiences we’d already had, including that of losing a child, would be the most grueling in our lives. I was mistaken about that. Having everything you’ve worked for your entire adult life threatened, and your ability to provide for your children and the children of employees you love and appreciate—that will suck the air right out of you. That will make anxiety flood you and wash you along day after day after day.

trees2 by you.

But I keep my head down and plod along, ever in harness, ever doing my duty, ever and always Doing The Right Thing, even if with a bad attitude: Do you see me, God? Do you see me, plodding along? Is this what I was born for? This small life of clod-breaking? And why didn’t You warn me that the happiest days would be the ones when my children were still children, still babes playing in the dirt, building villages with sticks and rocks and blocks, sprawling all brown-legged among the Legos and breast-feeding their baby dolls and teddy bears as their daddy and I chuckled. You never said how much harder it would get, the older they grew. How much harder I would get, how much older I would grow.

And I had just finished reading my friend Deb’s blog and about how she broke down and cried at the pharmacy the other day, and about the shocked looks of concern on the pharmacist’s faces, and had been sitting with that, putting myself in her place, feeling the empathy flow out toward her and being what I know so many of us are for her and one another, a silent, spiritual presence standing just behind her and each other, a comforting hand on the shoulder, a sympathetic smile, knowing that tomorrow or next week it may well be one of us, crying at the pharmacy or bank or dry cleaner. And I had just finished that when anger over a stupid and slavish school project for our twins erupted between my husband and me, and he said something unkind that, for this one time, pierced me to my heart like a well-aimed javelin and came out the other side.

I found myself sobbing at my desk, sobbing and crying and feeling the deepest and darkest winter of my entire lifetime. And snot ran down my face and it was over the fucking cardboard windows on the fucking colonial houses we had to make with (for) our twin daughters at their fucking wonderful school where the fucking projects are fucking never-ending. And yes, I should be grateful every day that we have the money for private education and access to excellent schools, and that we are able-bodied and have a good vehicle to drive them in, and can afford clothing, food, and clean water and a wonderful house. And all that. And I am grateful. But I wonder: when does the stress ever end? When does the doing and meeting of deadlines and always having one… more… fucking… thing to do ever END?

I thought, “When you’re dead.” That’s when it ends.

I Am Not a Victim of My Own Life

trees5 by you.

But around 4:00 this morning I came wide awake after dreaming that my child was dying. She was skin and bones and within hours or days of dying, and she was small and black, like my daughter Olivia had been, and she had open sores on her back and along her spine. She was just lying out in the yard, and I had put her there for dying, and when it was clear that she was nearly unconscious and almost dead, I had finally gone to get her and was carrying her off-handedly in one arm, and doing something like sipping tea or coffee with the other, and talking with others as though a dying child wasn’t really in my arms at all. And her eyes rolled back inside her head and I saw myself being so uninvolved over this dying child, and I knew even in my dream that she was me, some aspect of me that I was indifferently letting die.

I thought to myself, once awake, “You’re not a victim. You don’t have to be so weighed under all this stress, all these many things to do. You can take some action. And you need to.”

trees4 by you.

And so this morning after dropping the kids at school and starting my work day, I sat down and began to work with a sober determination to clear my desk of all the odious tasks I have to do as a small business owner and householder and hearthkeeper. The tasks of the business owner, especially, are the worst for they all involve bookkeeping and accounting, tax work and bean counting for which I am the least suited and which has provided many an hour of anguish and loathing because I know I am a slave. I was brought to the doorway of my master’s house and an awl put through my ear lobe in His service and I know exactly what I am doing and why. And I hate it every single day because I am human and part of the human race and there’s not a person alive who doesn’t have to do one thing or many things that he doesn’t want to do. We all have to do that.

But I, I was going to be energetic and smart and I was going to clear my desk of this crap, by God. And so I did. I cleared it and began to feel good about how I was not going to be kicked around by my goddamn job any more, and I was going to get to the bottom of this pile of I Hate This.

And so I did. And then I opened the mail, and there it was: an audit notice from one of our state agencies that has to conduct routine annual audits. I was back in hell, having to locate and organize and submit records and have this auditor meet with me and take up more of my time, doing what I most hate in life and what I loathe and what makes me breathless with anxiety and a slavish kind of keeping-my-head-down and plodding-along, like an ox pulling a plow in a storm.

And I laughed out loud.

14 responses

  1. Oh!

    I posted what I posted today. And then I did some things. And then I came back to find I’d left my desktop open with Third Eve, and remembered that I needed to check for new comments, hoping that I wasn’t overlooking anyone.

    I read these last three comments: RG, Gianna, and Heni. And I am flabbergasted, surprised, shocked, a little dismayed, embarrassed, and stunned. So Buckminster Fuller said that, eh? So Rudolf Steiner said that, huh? So that’s what you think, RG?

    I’m just about speechless (hah, but never quite, eh?). I’ll think about what you’ve said. I have some strong feelings that erupt over others thinking that I don’t see something, and also about the fact that you’re quite right: I don’t.

    And also memories come up from a long time ago, before I was an adult, when I thought a lot and had a very strong idea about what was intended for my life. And how many times I’ve felt and thought, over the past five years, that I have gone so far away from that, and yet in parts of me feel I am exactly where I was supposed to be at this time. So I can’t fight it by continuing to feel that way.

    Anyway. I confided to my friend the other day, one of my oldest and dearest friends, something that I carry around and hold dear to my heart, a secret, that I also feel about her and about a few other people I know or have known (not many). I told her what it was and she is one of the few people on earth I’d confide in this way, because I knew she wouldn’t think I was crazy or disordered in some way (and she’s a Ph.D. psychologist, too, so that helps).

    What you’ve written and quoted makes me feel a lot and realize that something may be coming into focus but not necessarily for me. I don’t know what to say about it yet or if I can say anything except in the most toddler-esque way. But I do want to say that I appreciate your taking the time to make these comments. They quite stun me sometimes, and I’m grateful.

  2. Hmm…these last two comments brought this to mind:

    “You will find there are fleeting moments in our experiences with others when they appear suffused and illumined by the archetype of their own spirit. And then other periods come, perhaps quite long ones, during which their beings are as if clouded over. You can learn to say at such times: The spirit makes me strong. I think of my friend’s archetype which I once glimpsed. No deception, no outer appearance can ever tear this picture from me. Struggle ceaselessly to keep this vision. The struggle itself is loyalty. In the effort to be loyal in this sense, man comes close to his fellowman with the strength and in the attitude of a Guardian Angel.” –Rudolf Steiner.

    Would that we could do this for ourselves, as well.

  3. I’ve never met a person whose life had so much meaning, purpose, and value and yet she could not see it.

    I posted this quote on my blog today–so in this moment I dedicate it to you because I see you practicing it…:

    The significance of you will forever remain obscure to you, but you may assume that you are fulfilling your significance if you apply yourself to converting all your experience to the highest advantage of others.

    Buckminster Fuller

  4. Thanks for being a friend to me with the e-mail message that you wrote.

    I’ve never met a person whose life had so much meaning, purpose, and value and yet she could not see it. I understand what you are going through to some extent. I’m at the same stage of life. I get sick of drudgery, too.

    Nevertheless, when I see photos of your family and read your stories and plow through your deep, complex essays, I think: “What a life she has!”

  5. That’s why that all-important “but” and “no matter what” are there! Your blog is entertaining, but not mindless 🙂

    How’s Battlestar Galactica? I’ve heard good things, but I’m not sure I can reconcile it with my fond memories of the original! Sounds like it’s really different, so maybe I’ll just treat it as something different entirely.

  6. Heni, I’m chuckling here and hope you’ll appreciate the twisted sense of humor I have, for when I read this line of yours, the two in such close proximity was very funny:

    “I just feel drawn to mindless entertainment instead. But your blog is one that I always check for updates…”

    LOL!!!!!!!!!!! I love this:

    “Mindless entertainment —> your blog”

    And while we’re at it, I’m into mindless entertainment these days, too, which is what drudgery compels me toward, and have been watching all the seasons of “House,” and some “Battlestar Galactica” and reading nothing interesting or good.

  7. Oh, right– we are supposed to feel virtuous and fulfilled over the small things in life. I forgot. Not drudgery but service, never-ending service. Damn this incarnating business, it’s too hard! Why can’t we just stay up in heaven where we came from?

    ***

    “[T]he common-sense way one runs one’s own household is not the way we’re supposed to run our country” — that is exactly what I’m always thinking these days. I was reading an article, probably in the NY Times, about the mortgage crisis the other day. I can have sufficient sympathy for those who took on mortgages larger than they truly can afford, especially because that’s seemingly The American Way these days, and for those who have lost jobs.

    But there were people quoted in this article who were angry that they didn’t qualify for assistance — because their problem was that their house was now worth less than their mortgage, not that they were unable to make the payments. I laughed rather bitterly at that: people who were upset because the gamble of investing in overvalued property went bad. The article mentioned a home in Modesto, CA that was bought for $600,000 and is now only worth $300,000. I’m sorry, Modesto’s economy is not such that even $300,000 sounds reasonable to me. The median family income there in 2000 was $45,000! So not much sympathy there.

    ***

    Good for you for clearing away that pile of drudgery. I’m sorry about the audit! And the fucking school project! And the unkind words! Phooey!

    ***

    I haven’t been blogging much lately, though I have tried to keep up with the reading at least. I just feel drawn to mindless entertainment instead. But your blog is one that I always check for updates, and read right away, no matter what.

  8. I’m just relieved to know I’m not the only person who feels this way sometimes, though I surely have far less cause, with my much-less-complicated life.

    I find it rather difficult, a lot of the time, to resign myself to the vulgar dailiness of modern life. It’s so tedious and so … well, it’s small, Eve, it’s so very small, and I feel smothered by all the small smallnesses of it, while still knowing that there is virtue in small things done well, even small stupid things that I hate to do.

    It’s hard to figure out how not to end up buried under all the the things that add up to an outwardly responsible life … because it’s important, I think, to address those responsibilities properly if one has taken them on. But where is one’s own life, under all those things? Is that life? I don’t think so, and yet, those deadening responsibilities are inevitable for people who have families and businesses and solid lives in the physical realm.

    It’s so hard, and getting harder, I think.

  9. the dying little girl disturbed me too…I trust you will find a way to resuscitate her.

    is cursing non-Christian really? why? besides using the Lord’s name in vain what’s the problem?

  10. Gianna, funny thing is I didn’t see the laughter coming either, but the whole thing, and especially my ego trying to work things out just this way, by conquering (ha ha ha) was very funny (ha ha ha).

    Not so funny is that I know a lot about that dying little girl in my dream, and I know what she would be doing if she were living rather than at death’s door.

  11. Deb, cursing is what makes me a not-very-good Christian. I just… can’t seem to tell some things as they seem to me without cursing.

    I am about to pitch a tent in Drudgery, America and just decide to live here. Maybe even build a little lean-to or a sod house or something along those lines. Something that looks good with an ox pulling a plow in a storm. ;o)

  12. I laughed when I read the last paragraph too. Sometimes that’s all you can do, when things pile up and pile up, threatent overwhelm, there are only two choices, laugh or cry.

    I’m feeling much better than I was last week, much more balanced. I am making sure that I’m taking my medicine (exercise) faithfully, as well as my anti depressants. The exercise works the best though. Yesterday I kicked ass on the treadmill, determined to walk hard enough to exorcise my demons, and I did.

    I’ve been doing a good job of remembering my dreams when I wake up and thinking about them and what they mean to me and about me. It’s given me some interesting insights, which of course I can’t remember right now:)

    I signed up for an art course which starts next week, something just for me, something that will not help my job or my family or anybody else, other than me. I can hardly wait. And I’ve spent the day tryingt to be conscious of my boundaries.
    It’s hard work this growing up.

    Sending a hug and I’m so glad you swear, you truly are a woman after my own heart.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: