The other night I was talking to my friend Brian and he asked me “What would you do if you didn’t have to work?” And I was stumped. Like, besides read and take pictures and write a bit more? I’m not sure, I said.
And then he told me what he would do and it reminded me that as little as three years ago I had a whole set of dreams for how I wanted to live my life differently. Somehow I had forgotten all about the piece of land and the communal living set-up and the alternative health stuff I wanted to do back then. (His vision, interestingly, was not so different from mine – it’s just that he seems to still be in touch with it). I seem to have stopped thinking about what I want to do, and shifted instead to what is right in front of me at any given time. Which I suppose makes sense when it’s all I can do to keep my days straight from one to another – I have stopped making the space for visioning. That’s just how time passes – I know – and it’s a wee bit scary.
This process I’m involved in with the union is going to take some time. My job has got me wrapped up in two places at once. I’m pretty sure that my animal being isn’t happy like this, but I keep reminding myself that it’s not forever. It’s just right now and it’s probably even for the right reasons.
Another conversation I had this week with my friend Michael helped me with the perspective I’ve needed to keep from being too angsty with this feeling of life moving away from me…. When I realized that perhaps the only point… beyond being successful or being right or being good looking or whatever the hell this is supposedly about… is to help each other out. Not me and him specifically, but all of us all the time. And if I reframe what I do in those terms then I’m a lot more relaxed about it – because as crummy as the union movement can be, I am also aware of a great many occasions when I’ve realized that it does help an awful lot of people live better lives, and become even more compassionate people.
It’s just that everything you do seems so small until you see it through the eyes of someone you’ve done it for – and we don’t often get the chance (as individuals or as organizations) to glimpse that view. A part of the curse of being raised privileged in a society that sells illusory choice is that you actually grow up thinking that someone you are supposed to live up to the potential set by every single other person – and while some people seem able to shrug that off – I find it impossible to stop making myself think of new things I *have* to do. It’s not enough that I’m working two jobs and traveling all over the damned country, writing every day and making art on the side, writing three letters a week to political prisoners and making time for the people I love – I am down on myself for not starting a novel too. Yeah. That would be some over-achiever complex.
It’s not as if all the doing makes me feel better. But connecting with others does…. And I suppose that’s a good goal for when I return home and get off the road for a bit – to take time for rest, time for people in my life, time to make space for what’s really important – at least while I have the chance.