We’ve finally got some snow on the west coast, which means it’s officially our one week of winter. We got a few inches last night, with more on the way today and tomorrow. There is very little moving around in my neighbourhood at the moment – I can’t even say that I’ve seen a single car go by since I started working a couple of hours ago. People here rarely invest in winter tires, so it’s really just for the best they stay home for the limited time we endure slippery roads. Lucky me, I work from home so I don’t have to go anywhere.
The quiet of the snow has me reflecting on the “boring” nature of our life here on Gabriola. Looking at the Facebook feeds of people I know, I’m struck by how frenetic some lives seem to be. I know people who routinely work fourteen hours days, take trips every other month, or who participate in competitive sport to the degree it takes up most of their time. I have friends who are travel writers, international facilitators, who provide executive services to politicians, and who are actually elected officials (provincial, municipal, and union).
In fact, it often seems like everyone out there is doing something more *meaningful* while I am just here at my desk working on strategic plans and looking out at the snow. I wonder at times if I’ve wasted the great currency of my privilege and education by checking out of the race and moving away from the city.
But then I remember my life when I was “in demand” for union and work positions – when I spent half my month on the road and was in a permanent state of exhaustion, when I was caught up in a false sense of importance, and when I was subject to all sorts of gossip and nasty politics because of my role (and boy, did I drink and cry a lot back then). While I’m sure I could have handled things better – I also know that the union movement (and political movements more generally) is no good behaviour picnic. A large part of what creates the illusion of “meaning” is the heightened emotional drama created by the participants.
I suppose also that because my life doesn’t have that emotional edge, I tend to downplay the activities I am engaged in – president of my union local, working full time, maker, writer, musician – as *not important*. You know – a sensible and manageable life just doesn’t hold any of the drama as one that is teetering on the brink all the time.
Now, I’m not suggesting that every person with a an in-demand life is on the verge of falling apart. I’m hardly a paragon of doing nothing. But my own reaction to these statuses makes me question why I ascribe meaning to one kind of life, one that is high pressure and leaves little room for oneself – while discounting my own experience (rich by any standards) as having *less* meaning. As far as I can tell – it’s the mind-trick of consumer-capitalism at work again. Or else it’s just a discounting of my own experience.
Either way, I will acknowledge my gratitude at the fact that during this snowy day, I do not have to run around doing a thousand things – but am in my quiet home office finishing off a planning document and thinking about what time I should take a yoga break. That’s really not so bad.