The other day I made an exemplary wall of boxes at work, a supreme example of a Tetris-like construction, the very thing we strive for at one of my for-pay gigs loading trucks for UPS. I asked the shift manager to take a picture of it. The boxes fit together almost perfectly. If satisfactory, I will earn a t-shirt, but I don’t care about that–I just wanted proof of a well-built wall.
I was a smart kid. I was raised to believe that some great destiny would find me during my lifetime, and I would seamlessly fit my talents into my labor, which would satisfy and sustain me over the long term. I just assumed this would happen, and that I’d make money from it.
But it didn’t occur that way, and while I’ve had adventures during my life in service or at work, it’s pretty much been a hodge-podge of cobbled-together experiences. Now as a Woman of a Certain Age, I’m feeling done with mopping up grief over roads not taken.
After years of spending mind-energy here, I am now less interested in fulfilling those ambitions that have passed me by. I’m less concerned with figuring out what “went wrong” and whether I have a chance to improve myself or attain something that has eluded me. I’ve become more curious about Meaning in my life right now.
I was always a procrastinator. I waited for conditions to be “perfect” before taking action. I was late to realize that reacting inventively to whatever happens actually builds the long-term skills that make getting your hands dirty easier to do. This active involvement, in turn, results in confident productivity. But instead, I’ve put my toe into the water lots of times without actually jumping in and swimming. The water just didn’t feel right, so why bother?
When you’re making a series of 12-foot-tall walls of boxes to fit into a 52-foot truck, the best way to do it is to use everything that comes to you–every box, one after the other, no matter how light or how heavy, tiny or large. You place it only once. If you set some aside waiting for better ones, or neglect to place the odd-shaped tires and rugs, or keep moving them around, looking for a better slot, very soon you will become overwhelmed with stacks of boxes multiplying and spilling off the belt onto the floor. You hurry to catch up, become sloppy, and now your walls look like shit. Boxes fall over themselves to get away from you. They become unstable and slide maddeningly; they threaten to fall on you, or to collapse on the unloader at their destination.
So, to attain the satisfaction of a wall well built, you use everything you have–you don’t exclude anything. You edit only during the creative process, but you need all tthe different pieces to make a complete wall.
The same way that I, at age 54, need all the skills and talents I have. Whether latent, curtailed, developed, hinted at, or hiding in plain sight…I need to use them all to build my life now. There isn’t time to wait for perfection, there isn’t time to wait to be recognized for what I hope to deserve. Using the raw materials that are me, I just have to make it work.
So…I stand now at the confluence of two Higher Thought: The Cannabis Game cards: Does life talk to you in symbols? and, What qualities give dignity to work?
Life talks to me in symbols by constructing experiences that fill in my missing understanding in the most basic and physical ways. I find that the universe has designed the perfect means to teach me about procrastination—procrastination which reveals its downside through the unending fairy-tale task of loading boxes neatly onto trucks.
I find there is a satisfying dignity for me in simply reacting to what I get with what I have, not waiting for something different or “better,” or for me to be perfect myself, but in just doing this simple task as well as I can.