24/7 For Each of Us~ Who Will Use Yours?
Do you know TED? Good stuff, there. I’ve been watching TED talks for my evening amusement. Hours of great ideas shared by amazing, motivated, successful people, ideas which can change the world. It’s kind of depressing as the most important thing I’m doing this week is staying with a little old lady cat. Sure, I’m good at that and am all kinds of trustworthy and responsible. But for reasons of cultural isolation which I will not go into here, a productive life of interaction and change for good feels very much out of reach.
Not that I had much focus or drive when I did live in the real world, but it felt possible to find something worth doing.
So, I picked up a paperback from the shelf here because Madame Bovary was really plodding along (not what I was expecting; I’ll carry on, but fear its tawdriness may be in a similar vein to the “adventure” I never quite found in The Count of Monte Cristo. Quaint.) The story opens with a young woman, attempting to treat herself to a spa half-day ~it’s all she can spare herself from the office~ before the year-old gift certificate expires. She has, ostensibly, hidden both her cell phone and her Blackberry in the little paper knickers supplied by the spa. Having passing acquaintance with said disposable undies, I find this unlikely. Regardless, it sets up the character as modern young lawyer, striving for Partner, leashed to the bosses 24/7, unable to claim for her own any time or even the thoughts in her head. She has a path, with goals and mile markers set upon it, to what she wants of her life.
For half a second, I imagined her power suit, her command of the law and finances, the economic growth and industry flowing from her desk. I think the persons upon whom this caricature is based are probably real. In my limited exposure to grown-ups, I’ve seen more than enough who don’t even take the vacation days they’ve earned (? ! ? That’s like not cashing a pay check.) I’ve just never run in the same circles as people who take business calls and send email from the table when we’re out to dinner. They don’t associate with the likes of me, crazy cat lady.
Or, perhaps, I don’t associate with the likes of them. I do not abide being stood up, walked-out on, or neglected because of “work.” The character in this book barely escapes the office, staff excused en masse for lack of some paperwork or other, in time to make it to her birthday dinner with her mother and brother, both of whom call to say they’re caught up at the office, can’t make it, transferred money, happy birthday. Not in my family. (Thanks, Dad, for being where you said you’d be when you said you’d be there, for dinner at 6:00 every night, for birthdays and holidays that were never “postponed.”) Not my friends for very long, either.
Indeed, not my life. And I do like it this way, after all. I’d rather live on less than wake up to an alarm clock before it’s light. We eat well because there is time to cook and to clean up, because I do not enjoy waking up to a sink of dirty dishes, even if there was no alarm. I have a partner who leaves work at the office and is present after that.
Maybe there is an intoxication in the power which I’ve never tasted. Are those suits another uniform for the hyper-competitive? Something else that isn’t really in me. I will probably never “make my mark on the world.” In fact, I live to leave as small a footprint as I may.
Emerson was right when he said, To know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, that is to have succeeded. That I do: creatures I care for, their people who needn’t worry while they are away, and …I hope… the humans who do walk this path along with me. These are lives I can touch, good in the world I can do, a difference I can make.