Mail Boat’s In
My ragged-economy-induced transition from the independence of solitary living to the dependence of moving in with my sister on her ranch in the central valley has inspired me in ways I thought no longer available to me. I have returned to writing with more vigor than at any time this millennium.
A recent correspondence with a friend from the Bay Area sent me spinning into a mildly narcotic contemplative mood, thinking esoterically about a variety of things. In response to reading of my embracing the leisure and pleasure of country living, plowing through life at one half the miles per hour than at my previous abode, she wrote:
“While I suspect the new digs, the change in life was grand and fit a spot, how are you moving along/forward. You-oddly enough-are a bit too young to sit and wile away the hours. Lemonade on the porch with intermittent naps sounds like fun but not endlessly, right?”
For a minute or so, after reading that passage, I felt the guilt of a Catholic upbringing cascade over me. Fortunately, I was able to close the lid on that hellish closet in my psyche, stuffing it back in with everything else discarded from being raised a Catholic.
Once those emotions were re-buried, I was able to figure out where she was coming from. This woman is a very intelligent, well-spoken, well-read person with a sharp wit and a healthy embrace of all things pragmatic. So, even though her questions cut against the grain of my natural attraction toward a life of leisure, her thoughts nonetheless were worthy of analysis.
I worked almost ten years with this woman, giving me a front row seat at her work ethic, which is admirable. But it is the puritan work ethic that she embodies, which dilutes her control over choosing the dynamics upon which to base this mindset, since the guidelines are already mapped out, leaving not a lot of wiggle room to loosen the restraints of a Protestant work ethic, defined as such:
The Protestant work ethic (or the Puritan work ethic) is a sociological concept attributable to the work of Max Weber and is "based upon the notion that the Calvinist emphasis on the necessity for hard work as a component of a person's calling...".
It is this sentence, “based upon the notion that the Calvinist emphasis on the necessity for hard work as a component of a person's calling”, that gets me on my hind legs, clawing at the air. Red flag words like “necessity” I find to be, to over simplify maybe, constraining and even judgmental. Guilt is the silent killer in this equation.
Having never shied away from “hard work”, I still allowed myself the tropical notion that I could easily, and without guilt, live on an island with no visible means of support, get my mail by boat, and read and write and think till my cows decide to come home. The majority of the heavy lifting I have done in my 51 years has been between my ears. With a god-given talent and many years spent honing same, my ability to quickly and concisely read and analyze people and situations has been far more enlightening then any “job” could ever be.
Still employed as only a mythical desire, my island goal is not any less or any more realistic to me than the more traditional approach to life. Even if never realized, having it as the largest suitcase in my collection of mental baggage keeps me balanced.
Most if not all of the above could be construed by some as an elaborate rationalization for laziness.
To that I would reply …oh, wait, there’s the horn from the guy in the canoe. My mail’s here. Then it will be time for lemonade on the porch and some lilting Harry Belafonte tunes.