So My Sweetie has retired from daily work-for-hire, and is now sifting through what — as far as I can tell — drifted up into the weekend-time for the past twenty-five-some, forty-some, years… deciding what he will tackle, and what he’ll tackle first, while he watches me.
As I, too, shift gears.
In August I shed the last current scrap of my student status — my summer job — and we (in the newness of his retirement) took a Big Trip, nearly a month’s-worth of driving, visiting, hiking in the southeast US. It was a wonderful marker for betweenness, recommended to him and now I recommend it to you, if you can.
We came back when we did mostly due to my things — appropriate for the shift we’re making together — so I came back to a bunch of bustle.
Which was (is) funny in light of the story I’d told myself about how, without school, I had “nothing to do.” Sometimes I wonder whether I’ve met myself, since even my most casual acquaintances would raise an eyebrow at that statement!
Full days following full days, steady attention to fit in the pressing elements,
until yesterday afternoon. When the pressing items had all completed, leaving the long(er)-range things. Which continue to need to be tackled, there’s not truly a lull,
yet my brain/self/energy deserted me. I tried to muster focus for next steps (well-known steps, no out-of-box thinking required)
and stalled. Stalled again. Pressed my fingers to my sinuses. Pulled out a book. Stretched out on my bed in case napping was needed…
Because I don’t have anything routine to paper over this time.
When My Sweetie worked for hire, he was a part of these complex and complicated projects that consumed the efforts of (frequently) hundreds of people. Part of that work, appropriately enough (as I see it), involves sustaining the connections between these working people. The efforts are interdependent, so there are meetings to discuss what’s happening in the moment or what might happen in the future — because we certainly would prefer a future where our efforts are still needed. There are notes distilling what was discussed; there are lists of actions agreed-upon, and who agreed to perform them. There are messages gathering the status of actions, compilations of the results….
My Sweetie was not fond of these tasks because they took him away from ‘doing things’, by which he generally meant the actions in the lists. But having been away from large, multi-person endeavors for more than a decade, I notice them in how they are necessary for these big works, and how they are pervasive in that sort of working life.
I notice them in their long absence from my life.
Once upon a time, when I was weary and could not focus, I could turn my attention to these sorts of tasks. There were many of them, too many to ever exhaust, which made them seem unimportant, like sand. And yet they retained value within the relationships of work. My completing them would gain a nod somewhere else; they mattered despite feeling small and despite not requiring much of my brain.
Now, my projects are all of my own making. Rarely does anyone track their progress more than casually; connections and communication are all under my umbrella, as is recognizing the efforts involved. When I pause, or stop, they seem to sink without a ripple.
I think this is the nature of the work I’m in the midst of — good, bad, or indifferent, this work is not part of a huge web of human activity. What web-spinning it’s likely to generate will be (I think) slow, and so hard to observe. So be it.
But on days like yesterday and today, I miss what fills in the cracks between the bricks, the cells? of a hive of activity that’s simultaneously individual and collective.
If I could just have some mortar to quietly smooth in between, until my body catches up with my visions…