I dug my yard up last night. Not for anything weird. Don’t be like that. It’s because the area around our deck is a mud pit and mud + kids / a door to the house nearby = not great things. So I’m trying to cover it with pavers. Whatever. Who cares. I didn’t mean for this to become Pinterest but with words.
As I dug out the section I was working on, not going to lie, I was pretty thrilled and happy with my progress. But I was also confused at this self-satisfaction. After all, I was literally just digging up dirt. I had a semi-retarded dog in college who did this on the regular and it’s not like anyone celebrated her for it.
And then I realized why I was so pleased with myself; because I could step back and be like, “I did that. There is evidence of my effort right there for THE WORLD to see.”
My life isn’t normally like that. My days consist of me writing in various forms for money and this is a dream come true in many ways because I get money for something I enjoy doing.
But as with everything, there’s a downside and it’s not just in the awkward conversations I have with strangers about qualifying to them what I do for a living.
“You what now?”
“I’m a writer. I write…things?”
“Like what? You write books?”
“I have written some books, yes.”
“Nothing you’ve read. But my agent is pitching…”
“So how do you make money?”
“Well, see I get paid to…there’s lot of different things I do to…you know what? (gets out laptop) Let me show you my Google Drive Spreadsheet that breaks down my monthly income….”
My work day can tend to have a nebulousness to it. I get home and I don’t have any animals slung over my shoulder, nor do I have blisters on my hands or dirt on my shirt from all the WORK I’ve done all day. Sometimes I do get barbecue sauce on my shirt, but mostly, my back is a little stiff and my contact lenses are dried out. Hashtag Blue Collar.
Most of the projects I work on take months to come to fruition. This isn’t bad and please, save your tears for literally anyone or anything else. What I’m saying is that most of my workdays lack a sense of immediate value.
I suspect that this isn’t completely unlike most people. Our lives are filled with things that are mostly Sisyphean: work, marriage, faith, parenting, etc. We do them largely out of some sense of institutional obligation and for the most part, there is no point of discernible reward in sight with any of them.
What this has all made me realize is that everything has another side to it. There is no holy grail, no zero calorie donut, and no point of abject perfection that dovetails with simplicity. Everything is layered. Upsides and downsides abound.
This is not a lament about the universe, rather a realization of it. There’s a certain freedom in learning to recognize and understand the reality of things and this is one of them: the point at which I stop pining for sublime contentedness will be when I’m closest to it.
In this sense, I suppose that contentedness is all perspective. And I suppose further that sometimes, getting there is as simple as digging up your backyard.