Today was an absolutely lower levels of the Nine Hells kind of day at work. When I first looked up from all the stuff I was trying to get accomplished across the course of the day, it was 12:30pm and I had finished nothing. I had four different projects running at the same time, and was nowhere near to finish any of them. So I took a break, hit the nearby Subway and came back with an unsweetened tea and a foot-long cold-cut-combo in-tow. I had every intention of eating lunch. Again, more “immediate” issues, along with long, detailed explanations of SQL code to folks who don’t understand SQL code at all…I looked up and it was 4:40pm. Twenty minutes left in the work day, and I had YET to eat lunch.
This is a bad scenario for a diabetic (which I am). Skipping meals can result in catastrophic issues. Especially since I had already taken my fast-acting insulin shot just minutes before I was deluged with more issues. When I made it home at 5:30pm (I live very close to work), I immediately started eating to satisfy the very low blood sugars I was feeling. Close to sunset, I pulled on a pair of swim trunks and got into my backyard pool.
My backyard pool does not have a great view of the sunset to the west. However, if I stand in the pool where the water comes up to my chin, I can see the colors through the slats of my neighbor’s fence. Today’s sunset was apparently a wonderful set of hues ranging from deep plum to an egg-yolk yellow to an intense array of red from light to dark. As I sat there and watched these colors slowly fade as the night-sky started its nightly conquest for the start of evening, I felt a series of thoughts come to my mind.
What would Crow and Coyote and Abnoba think of me after today? There were several moments where I nearly lost my temper. Quick trips to the “restroom” allowed me to cool off sufficiently to not do so.
::Since you asked, I would wonder why do you work yourself to the bone there, but not in the tasks that mean more in your heart?::
That was the familiar, yet mostly silent over these past few years, voice of Coyote. I have rarely heard from Coyote, except for some painful taunts about who I am or some stinging retorts over what I had been doing. Coyote has played the role of sarcastic, sometimes hurtful, self-reflection for me. But in this, His response was not meant to be hurtful, but a stark, to-the-bone cut of the issue at hand.
In the past, I have let my job define who I am. That took a long time and a lot of effort to get beyond. What was left, after all the detritus in the bowl was burned away, was the effect of what I am – a workaholic. I enjoy the work I do, not for the assistance that it provides, but for the challenge that each data request provides. Writing code to extract data points from a database so that someone else can use that to determine the “right” or “wrong” of a choice – either after the fact or during planning. I don’t put one hundred percent effort into what I do, I put one-thousand percent. I work my ass to the bone, not to fulfill the data request, but to handle the challenge of what the request represents. I am Saint George, and the database is my Dragon.
Typically, when I get home, all the projects that I have get set to the wayside or have a half-hearted effort placed into them – simply because I am tired from all the mental effort and anguish I put into the job I perform. I work for a public community college, so my wages are pure shit, but I still put a ton of effort into what I do. Because its not about the money, its about the students. While my job doesn’t have a ton to do with the students, I do get to report on the efforts our students and faculty place into the battlefield that is the classroom. And while a noble and worthwhile (in my opinion) effort, the projects that mean the most to my heart are set to the side. My efforts there have been half-hearted at best.
While I know the retort from Coyote is mostly meant to be sarcastic, and a strong dig at my personal pride, it is an accurate statement. My writing is important to me, but it is obvious where my “master” is – the work-load. So, where and how can I achieve enough of a balance to put some better effort and heart into my writing? And another thought enters my mind of where does my daily Spiritual Practice fall in all of this? What about my studies? What about my life outside of all of that? And as I look, rather biased for the moment, I can sincerely say that I have let my work-life dictate my effort and participation in the rest of my life.
So what is the answer? I honestly do not know. And whatever answer I do manage to come up with for myself is likely to be of little effect for someone else’s. Each situation and its outlying variables will be different. While we are all human, we are all individuals who react differently to the same stimuli and input. But I do know this, I will need to figure out some aspect of a general schedule in my life. Not specific to time frames and the such, except where that may be appropriate. Just a general day-to-day approach, knowing that there is a good balance that can be struck between everything, as well as dampen some of what work does to me. I have books, so getting lunch and taking a break with a book may be an appropriate choice. But I do know there is a balance. I am squarely in the middle of Libra with my birth…if that’s any clue. 😉