It’s that special time of year for us during which all sorts of things decide to simultaneously coil up like a rattler in strike and free themselves upon us with the spit and vigor of a cat who’s tail is stuck in a sliding door.
AKA, it’s about to get crazy up in here.
There have been moments in my past when I have felt like Luke Skywalker standing in the garbage compactor of the Death Star. The walls are about to close in, I’m surrounded by foulness and trash, and two of my friends have the bright idea of holding off the impending squish with a giant metal toothpick (the other is screaming and banging on the walls), all of which have almost made me forget about that mammoth water snake that is working to suffocate me with its alligator death-roll.
My friend Christi, having her own Star Wars moment with the Hobart.
Sometimes life feels like this. Can I get an Amen?
To be fair, though Crazy Town is just around the bend, we have not pulled into the station, so what really puts all of this on my mind is that I can name four or five friends or co-workers who, at this very moment, are in the middle of a trash-compactor life phase. So, I’m feeling for them a little bit.
Something I realized last September, in the wake of a one-month work bender, is that, well, some people work all the time,
I can’t say whether it’s a choice (the latest UltraTinyBook is always calling) or a necessity, but there are some poor souls out their whom, either to make ends meet or to buy another cat (did I say that?), work 80+ hour work weeks, every week. Others do it because they are pinned down by deadlines, or because their work defines their person. I am not judging. I understand some of these reasons first-hand.
However, the last time I had a phase like this, to put it simply: I became an awful person. It happened quicker than I’d thought, and far more easily than I had ever hoped. The pressure built, sleep became a dream, and sitting down for a meal was a maniacal notion. And was I ever miserable to be around. If I wasn’t working, I was somehow trying to explain how hard I was working. If I wasn’t running from place to place, I was showing you the worn tread on my shoes. If I wasn’t plunging a toilet, I was giving you the minute-by-minute, poopy details of the one I just left.
More than a quiet meal, more than a relaxing afternoon, more than sleep, I wanted one thing:
If I was going to work this hard and this tirelessly, I wanted
someone everyone to
notice. And comment. And give me the sad eyes and the kind
words. I wanted to be recognized
for laying down over the tracks.
This is not to say that the folks I referred to earlier, the ones who are struggling underwater in a sea of work, are exhibiting the same nasty traits I did last year. They actually aren’t, which is what has made me think so much on this lately. They are working, in their exhaustion, with grace and kindness, and even the sweet seasoning of humor. But I was not so good. In fact, I was very, very bad.
Yes, during those busy days I needed a nap, and probably a snack, too. But I also needed to remember to mentally back-the-heck-up and recall that my circumstances should not dictate my behavior; that when the going gets tough, the tough get counseling, or whatever the phrase is. I needed to remember that I am still the master of my own mind and words and actions, and that just because I feel like taking a five-minute break to punch holes in a wall doesn’t mean that I won’t get cut. And it surely means that someone else will, too.
See, we live in community. It’s unavoidable. Even if you are single and live alone, what you do impacts others. It impacts your parents. It impacts the fellow at the checkout counter at the gas station. And this is more so if you are married, have a family, or live in a dormitory or perhaps the stray commune village. Other people are undeniably part of your and my life. How I choose to walk through valleys will radiate to my co-workers and the people we serve here on The Compound. If I think that my attitude is solely an internal organ, I have been taken for a ride, and sooner or later, someone is going to come along and correct me. Or equally likely, some innocent small child is going to walk up, gaze at me with Bambi eyes, and ask me why I look like I want to hurt everyone in the room.
Work is hard. Sometimes it’s just plain miserable. But, if you are fortunate enough to have a job that you care about, or if you care about your job, there are high points in the mix: shimmery moments of glory and joy. Remember those moments. Remember who you are in those moments.
I want that. Most importantly, I want to remember the person I am in those beautiful, energized interactions so that when I come crashing down and find myself standing in the terrible trash-compactors of life, I will know that just because my circumstances smell like garbage and look like a water dragon from the deep, it doesn’t mean that I need to go for a swim.
Be honest about your feelings, but don’t drown in them. Credit feels good, but living well feels so much better.