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post-carrying Day 18


I was busy all day but it just seems like I didn't get anything done! Days like this are hard. We eschew unproductiveness in our culture. I would never say the day was "wasted;" but days like today do feel dissappointing. But dissappointing to whom? And, why? And what is the criteria for "getting something done?" Is it checking everything off the to-do list? That's one way to guage it. Yet, doesn't life USUALLY interrupt the best laid plans? Yes. So, why is an interrupted to-do list a dissappointment?


Well, some things on the list simply were pains in the butt in the end and I never figured out how to get paypal set up with my website -- for one. So, there is the expansion of the time estimated to complete a task --  problem. 


Then there is the  -- I lost track of time and worked on a piece in my studio longer than the time I'd alloted -- problem


And, of course the -- appointment  scheduled in the middle of everything so there's the transition time and getting there then transition time and getting home -- problem.


Oh, and --- oops, I forgot to pay those bills, better get those taken care of -- or, yikes, forgot to fill and run the dishwasher last night --- or, the cat has a hairball and guess who gets to clean up THAT surprise ---basically, the life's little interruptions to the schedule -- problem


Some days just flow beautifully. Planned or unplanned, some days just feel like a song. Why do other days feel like ten different melodies are vying for attention at once? More importantly, why are those days SO hard, so dissappointing as we sit back at the end of them to trying to relax or just plain fall into bed?


I think there is a Fear of unproductiveness in our culture. I know I feel it. Moreover, it feels like such a Fear sweeps wide across the expanse of the American work ethic. At heart, for me it is the Fear that underneath it all, I am lazy. That because I sometimes don't tick everything off my list every day, or because sometimes I truly relish just a lie down, I am lazy at heart. And if I am? Well, according to the work ethic, my worthiness drops. This relates to the "what do you do?" story I wrote about maybe a week ago. We identify with what we do (and what earns money). So if we don't do anything, we are not anything. Do nothing, be nothing. Even, do little, worth little. 


I don't really buy into this at heart but at times it seeps into my own expectations of myself I am afraid. There have been times in my life when due to circumstances, I did very little and was thereby forced to travel those dark deep roads to find my core value appart from actions and deeds. It was treacherous, frightening and risky work but I came out understanding far better that value is inherent not earned. 


Shortly after one of those dark journeys to my core, I encountered a man who offhandedly told me I needed to make more money because I was worth more than the work I was doing and it was an embarrassment that I didn't see my value. This led to a discussion of why some work is valued at higher rates than other work in our culture (he worked the same hours as I did at two jobs but made many times more money than I did). This man went so far as to say that someone who makes little, though he works hard is less valuable to society. My mind went immediately to the wonderful, joyful man who's worked for years as a "bag boy" in a grocery story in a nearby town. This man will never advance in his position due to developmental limitations yet every, and I do mean every, person he sees gets a huge "hello" and "how are you doing?" along with a big smile. I pointed to this example of what I saw as a man who is tremendously valuable to the community he serves and to humanity for the positive energy and joy he spreads every day. My example was scoffed at. Which made me cry a bit. 


So I told the story of my sister who was institutionalized at age 4 because of profound mental retardation. Her life was a burden to her and she was a challenge to many. Yet too, there were joys, there was beauty in her and because of her. She never earned a penny. I asked, "was she not valuable?"


Both examples fell sadly on a closed heart which I must admit was a man believing the extreme version of the work ethic yet he was a man well admired in his own community and business world and so people listened to him, which is the saddest of all to me. His value-system was, if not passed on by him to others, certainly condoned at the very least.


This to me just shows how hidden our Fear of non-productivenes is. Our Fear that we are only valuable insofar as we produce. Yet we don't see what this Fear says about how we feel about ourselves and also about those around us. Just as we cannot truly love others unless we love ourselves, I don't believe we can truly value others intrinsically unless we recognize our own inherent value. That is, see that even if I get not-a-single-thing done, I am still a valuable, vital human being. This is easy to preach, it is far and wide more difficult to live. I am reminded of Herman Hesse's "Siddartha." It is one of those books that deserves a read from time to time in life... perhaps again....