Weekly Photo Callenge: Blue. Or: Not Having an office job to go to

What I love, what I hate about not having an office to go to: a dozen of each. 

I can’t keep office hours right now. I’m working part-time, but it’s editorial assistance work I can log into and do from my kitchen table.

What I love about this arrangement:

1) Deep and calm sleep, and waking when my body wants to, not when the clock says I must.

2) Being able to see the surface of my desk.

3) Flexibility. My days are as busy as I want them to be, and if I want to have an extended morning coffee on the couch by the fire with my iPad, I can. If I want to wear leggings 3000 days in a row, I can. If I want to fit my exercise in before I dress for the day, I don’t have to get up extra early to do so.

4) Never running out of clean socks, t-shirts or towels.

5) Having time for hobby writing.

6) Fifty-cent lunches that include healing organic chicken broth I have time to make myself.

7) Having a yard that looks lived-in, quack-grass and dandelions that are mostly under six inches in height, and not having to fit the home and garden in when I would really rather be relaxing at the end of a long day.

8) Having to-do lists that I might complete this century.

9) Having time to breathe, to take at least three or four Scrabble turns in a day, to read at least one news story, and to read the writing of some amazing bloggers out there. (I’m still working on choosing my favorites for that Kreativ Blogger Award.)

10) Being the only one who never has to miss Book Club.

11) Not having to choose between a lunch break and, say, a hair appointment.

12) Being flexible enough to bend around almost everyone else’s schedule. You want to catch up over lunch but can only make it on Wednesday, week after next, at 11:33, in the far northeast end of town? No problem.

What I hate about this arrangement:

1) Not having any colleagues to exchange the quotidian with.

2) Not having any colleagues to have lunch with.

3) Not having the gratification that comes with professional respect.

4) The income.

5) The isolation and what feels to me at times like desperate, choking loneliness.

6) Not getting a lot of professional gratification or respect. (Have I already mentioned that?)

7) Feeling like, since everyone else in the family has more on their plate than I do, it’s up to me to do the grunt work, all of it.

8) Feeling like the entire world is on speed, and that I alone maintain a normal marathon pace.

9) Feeling like an anachronism, like I belong back in the 50s, like I’m the only one with a clean shower and no life, though my shower isn’t actually even clean.

10) Feeling trivial for posting entirely self-absorbed blog posts such as this one.

11) Being vaguely aware of envy in place of empathy emanating from my friends. I love you all dearly, and it’s a nice arrangement in many ways, and I’m thankful for it. But my experience of the past 18 months and the new fibromyalgia-riddled, energy-reduced, fresh-out-of-estrogen me hasn’t exactly been a picnic either. Don’t underestimate the freedom and pleasures of good health, or the satisfaction and self-esteem and power employment brings.

12) Feeling trivial for playing at hobby photography (though I now prefer to think of it as Miksang, or Contemplative Photography, thanks to Louise over at The Sacred Cove, and for taking part in things like the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge. (Blue, this week, which suits the mood I’ve worn for several months now, but which made me think of the colour blue in a photo I took on a lovely vacation we took a number of years ago, and which I have included above, even though it has nothing to do with this post.)


We are all connected

We’re all on machines of some sort, spin bikes or elliptical trainers or treadmills, moving, moving, moving, and though we ultimately don’t have full control over them, we forget that we do have some, and that trainers can’t possibly replace the real thing. We need our machines to survive, and they enable us to achieve wonderful and important goals, but they can be greedy, and take everything.

My own machine has recently been set to a steep incline and major resistance, and now makes frequent stops, at which time I have little choice but to rest. What I’ve noticed since these changes have been imposed is how little the other machines around me stop.

They go faster, and slower sometimes, but they rarely stop, except to permit a little mindless entertainment, a little refueling often done on the run, and a little sleep, usually too little.

It’s not bad being forced to stop more, just a little lonely. Sometimes, when I’ve slowed down and am focused on revitalizing my chemo-damaged mitochondria and DNA, taking the time to properly feed and rest and exercise the cells and atoms that comprise my self, I just want a listening ear, and those—with a few brilliantly shining exceptions—can be hard to find. Wonderful and caring but constantly in motion and exhausted people surround me, and I want to reach out and touch their foreheads for a moment, and remind them not to give it all to the machine, to reserve a little for themselves—to remember to do some yoga and deep-breathing, to read something that interests and nourishes them, and in turn, those around them.

Because, as astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson put it, and my brother, always deeply conscious but ever more so now in the wake of recent loss and bereavement, recently reminded me, “we are all connected; to each other, biologically; to the earth, chemically; to the rest of the universe, atomically.”

That’s what is real, not the machines.

If I’m empty and malnourished and have nothing fresh and vital to bring to our exchanges, and you don’t either, we will, eventually have fewer and fewer reasons to slow our machines, to reserve a little energy for more than mindless and numbing entertainment and sleepless nights.

It’s one of the reasons I’ve started blogging. This way, when I have something I’d like to say and nobody to say it to in that moment, it can just sit there and wait on the roadside for a fellow cycler’s moment of slowing and consciousness. I need a listening ear, and hopefully, even these moments of electronically shared consciousness can be mutually enriching and nurturing. Because when we live too many of our hours unconscious of our connection to the universe and to each other—when we’re too rushed to nurture ourselves and ensure we have something of value to bring to our exchanges, when we’re too tired and depressed to savour and enjoy and nourish each other—we stop really seeing each other, deeply understanding each other. And when that happens, we’ve stepped away from all that is real. And this reality, being here, now, doesn’t last forever.