My grandmother, a rather short ornery woman from a town that’s long been underwater in central Vermont, used to remind us that her “get up and go got up and went” whenever a spate of hard work needed to get done. We didn’t have to bring out the smelling salts to revive her but we got the drift. Grandma was off duty more than she was on.
Lately I’ve been noticing that my overachiever mojo ain’t anymore. Maybe it’s genetics and I’m just answering the call of my DNA to sit this one out. Maybe it’s the desire to do something totally different or maybe I just need a nap. Either way I’m all for a week of Sundays.
I think we work too much. Sure, sure. We sit in an office punching little keyboard squares and staring at a monitor and thinking great corporate thoughts and when the hell is this day going to end. But is this it? Is that epitaph true, the one that says, “I should have spent more time at the office?”
When I was a kid I’d spend hours staring at clouds and daydreaming about where they’d been and where they were headed when they reached the horizon. This was unappreciated by my teachers and my mother but my dad got it. He thought it was the sign of an “artistic temperament”. My mother thought I had the makings of a delinquent. I think I got a bit of both.
Which brings me to the Great Question. No, the other great question, the one about am I doing what I should be doing or want to do or need to do or why the hell do I do it for money? Besides the usual bill paying credit score car might die old age paranoia thing.
A few years ago I read a book, a wee fiction piece, by some guy in Maine who never wrote another book but who had a life that struck me as crazy and fun and not conducive to building up the Social Security payments. This guy, name unremembered, had spent his life as a jack of all trades crab slaughterer, fisherman, lumberjack, handyman, sardine canner, author, teacher, half-ass musician and newspaper reporter. None of this connects and some sociologist or psychologist might be thinking career ADD or worse but I loved the little book and I think I had a temporary crush on its author.
The most fun I ever had, besides staring at the clouds, was being a historian at Fort Warren in Boston Harbor, and a research archivist at the Plymouth, MA, town hall to boot. There’s something about touching history and listening to it speak through paper and the bricks of a building that sends me. I heart the smell of musty paper and rows of grey boxes filled with the secrets of families and the history of towns.
John Burroughs, the American naturalist and a man given to taking a few chances, might have been on to something when he wrote, “Leap and the net will appear.” I first heard that phrase when it was repeated more than once by the speaker at my grad school commencement in 2007.
As a fellow career shapeshifter, he was the perfect choice to address a group of anxious mid-life career changers who had just spent a whole bushel of money on a maybe this will work. I think he was on to something. Maybe instead of a week of Sundays it’s time to consider a leap and
plan hope for the net.