There’s sage sausage hash in the crock-pot. And the wind is blowing so hard that the tree branches hitting the gutters on the roof sounds like rain. I’m drinking a cup of tea and thinking this feels nothing at all like spring.
I have a tidy list of things to do, but feel myself splaying across the day like an amoeba – reaching where instinct calls me – five directions at once. Not great when I’ve been feeling worn thin, but on the other hand, it is nice to notice how interesting the world is – so many things to dip into.
I think it is bad advice to say people should do one thing, and do that one thing well. It certainly is a limited – practical – view of what we are “supposed to” do with our lives. Be useful. Provide something of a defined and comparable value to others. From one perspective, it seems that when we move beyond the need to use all of our waking hours to provide for our own – and our immediate family’s – sustenance, we are brainwashed to think we have to use our “free time” to achieve the same kind of commodity-oriented goals. When I saw “we”, I mean “me”. But I am very sure I am not alone in this. There is a huge backlash to the whole productivity movement. But I have yet to see the relinquishing of the “do one thing well” idea. The branding. The minimalism. The easily identified, quantified, and typeset in stone on a grave marker. You get eight words to sum up your life.
Does anyone aspire to the epitaph: She did a great many things moderately well?
Norwegian call people like this potatoes. Here lies Ren Powell, Potato.
I don’t know. Maybe that would be just fine. But I am hoping by the time I fall apart that it will be legal to put me in a sack at the base of a sapling. No “Here lies”, at all. I remember – morbidly – writing a suicide note when I was in my mid-twenties. A poem about finally being nourishing. I think I have felt an enormous pressure to make myself useful since I was a child. A pressure to be worthy. And the consequential need for approval. Justify my existence.
Today I am sitting at my desk and I can see the bookshelves in front of me. I am in the middle of sorting through them – my collection having outgrown the space in this little bibliotekette. After yesterday’s temporary shuffling, right in my line of sight are books on travel writing, on playwrighting, on memoirs. But today I am not seeing them as accusations. I’m not judging myself. I followed those roads as far as they interested me. We aren’t supposed to treat the relationships in our lives this way, but maybe that’s all the more reason we should give ourselves the freedom to move on when a delight becomes a chore. My life is so damn circular, I may well pick the genres up again someday. Why have I been convinced that I have to choose everything in my life and stick with it – or deal with the shame of “failure”. I know myself and I know I don’t give up when things get hard. I follow through. But I don’t continue pushing when there is no desire either.
“If you are doing something moderately well, then stay in your lane. Continue. Try to prove you are worthy of the time you have on this planet, in this form.”
I don’t believe that the bacteria that will break down our bodies and make it useful for the planet again care what we have done, what is on our CV, what awards we have. Even the history books we long to be included in are fictions and distortions of stories that will suit or not suit the future, but have nothing to do with us at all. What’s in a name? A form of ancestor worship. A system of faith – religion even.
Of course, I want to excel. I want to be renown and respected. But I keep asking myself if that’s the measure of a good life at all.
Right now I’m going to pour myself some more tea and tend to my day job tasks – a job I used to love but now loath. And I am praying that my life will circle around and I will want to do the work again someday … soon.
an immortal jellyfish
reverted – not new
but new – translucent under
over the world is endless