Friday, November 18, 2011

Life Unscripted


Yesterday over coffee a dear friend, a writer with a passionate soul, listened to my weary uttering about having no ambition, about wanting to "do nothing", and told me I needed to write a story about it.

Her advice caused my other dear friend to laugh at the thought of writing about doing nothing, which got me chuckling, a relief, because my state overall was somber.

I should clarify that my lack of ambition, resulting in wanting to do nothing, really boils down to one category, albeit a whopper sized one: a job. There is no workplace I can envision wanting to be sitting in, moving through, reporting to etc. Therefore, I have surmised that I want to do nothing for work.

Having little desire to report to work is something I may need to rectify at some point soon.

It has been a privilege to be able to parent full-time and still get the bills paid. Life as a mom has been rich with time spent developing a strong relationship with my son. I have participated in a plethora of activities with him that I might not have gotten to if I had reported to work by day and picked him up afterward. The only thing there is less of is money, but I can't think of anything else that has diminished by this time spent raising my child.
In a way, I gave him the childhood I wish I had. My mom worked many long hours as a RN and supervisor of an operating room, even being on call for holidays. She had to support our family. Looking back now, she is not happy with the toll her job took on her mental and physical health. She missed out on some stuff with us. She has regrets. I never wanted to have those. 
What does not help are the "war stories," pardon the expression, I hear from my spouse, my friends, family members, strangers even, about workplaces. I cannot bring myself to relish, for more than a brief millisecond, the thought of plunking my body down into one of them again. 
Just to give you an idea of what I am talking about, here are some of the stories:

One friend has a colleague who for some reason has come at her out of the blue, and with a vengeance, declaring her work unfit; though he is of equal ranking to her, and does not work directly with her, he has decided to make it his mission to stay on top of her business even though their supervisor has made it clear that he should apologize and stop. Did I mention she has her Ph.D.?
Another friend has had all creativity and decision making autonomy taken from her after close to thirty years on the job. She is a teacher of young children and has been handed a literal script, which she is required to read from while being carefully monitored, and offered firm admonishments any time she deviates from it, though she is a master teacher.

Still another friend whose job is literally to fix everyone else’s problems, while accomplishing his own workload as well, (for a huge corporation that is cutting his benefits as I write) must hide with his laptop to have even a spare half hour of a day to get his work done. He eats lunch while working and people track him down and find him behind the see-through glass brick, office walls, on a mission to receive his answers rather than find their own. (He has a thought that the scripted curricula my teacher friend faces are impacting the young people he helps, since they do not seem to have problem solving skills of their own, instead they require the authority of [the teacher].)

Just reading the above gives you an idea about why I am reluctant to venture back to anything considered "the workplace".
So, I think, I want to do nothing.
I have another close friend who is quite successful and has her masters in a health related field. She tells me all the time, “Kellie, unless you HAVE to, don’t get a job.” She is emphatic that the lifestyle I lead is the one we all strive for (time for self). She warns me not to get sucked into the cultural norms that tell us the only valuable work is outside the home in some preconceived workplace. She reminds me of all the jobs I do have, and the value those hold, not monetary at all, of course.
Some of my jobs while being "at home" (art teacher, artist, book keeper), have earned a little money, some have saved money (sub at my son’s private preschool) and all provide my family with a certain convenience. (Chances are if you want to wear that favorite shirt it’s clean, the front door always reflects the season, transportation is never a question, a friend can always come here and will be supervised and fed, the school project will have the right materials, there will always be a clean hand towel.)
Can I have calm, comfort and a job? I watch my husband accomplish many incredible feats at home that involve being up on the roof more often than I would like and hold a full-time job. Yet every morning this week he has proclaimed his exhaustion from the job he "goes to work" for.

I have a friend who has four jobs including 'home' as one. She admits there is one job she would happily omit, which might eliminate the second, but bring her to the two jobs that she most loves. 

Why the ruminating over getting a job? It probably comes from spending too much of my life doing and not enough of it being, that got me into the habit of seeing a job as a half empty, drained really, glass. But, for the past blessed years I have written my own script and starred in my own screenplay. As it turns out, getting up most mornings and having the freedom to choose the time frame and order I will do my work in might be the antidote to malady. Sigh. The thought of dressing my body for a certain image I am supposed to portray, then moving myself out the door, and into a foreign, sometimes hostile, place for hours on end, to produce work, seems discouraging.


I cannot summon up the courage—right now.
(In fact, I’m pretty sure our bodies weren’t even designed for jobs, not the kind that involves an irrelevant workplace anyway.)
I know there are many other views and that not all workplaces feel assaultive. I secretly pray I will find one, but I cannot see this place yet. Maybe writing this story will help me locate it.

(For now I am off to paint, a portrait of a Great Blue Heron, a Christmas gift for my husband.)