Life is hectic for someone who doesn’t have the structure of routine that school or work provides; the early morning alarm and the hurried breakfast (or skip the breakfast, and grab a coffee), the office and desk work, the campus crowds between classes – these are no longer part of my life, but I vividly remember what that was like. The routine was a scaffolding around which I tied going to the gym, reading for pleasure (the few moments I could find), gardening, and then the necessity of grocery shopping and brushing my teeth. The structure was binding through a sense of overwhelming duty. I felt guilty when I skipped a class, and never missed a day of work unless I absolutely couldn’t go do my job.
I remember being told – when I was little more than a scamp – that a job would hold most of the value in my life. I grew up without a decent example of family life, so when I neared adulthood, which was coincidentally around the time I was graduating with a Master’s degree, I felt a most disturbing sense of failure that I didn’t have a job… in the conventional sense of the word. Actually I had very little to show for the time I had spent on this planet. And then I asked myself what my priorities were.
A job and a family are the go-to mantras of the previous generations. I do have a job, but I have no boss and no one is paying me. So, technically, I’m unemployed. I also have a family but none of its members are my blood relatives, so, technically, I’m alone. In the eyes of my grandmother, who would die several times of stress induced aneurysms if she knew what my life was like, I am worthy of pity. I tried telling her once how awesome it was that I had built my own house, and I mentioned that I didn’t have a bathroom, so she promptly tilted her head, raised her eyebrows, and said is a soothing voice that sometimes life is hard and we must bare through… I swear, she had genuine concern.
Anyway, the point is, my car is a mess. I have an inordinate amount of hardwood in my backseat, and a stack of mahogany plywood in my trunk, along with a pair of white heels, a bike helmet, a dyepot, a cardboard box filled with dyestuffs, and jumper cables. I also have several deli boxes that contain flower seeds, and a big tin filled with hinges and cabinet handles. Life is hectic and it’s spilled inside my car. I don’t have the structure of a daily job, or a family to come home to, so my car is filled with the stuff my life is filled with: wood, a healthy stash for future projects, art supplies, gardening supplies, and emergency equipment. I don’t care what you do, a pair of heels IS emergency equipment.
It got me thinking that we all surround ourselves with objects, and depending who we are, our collections reflect our identities. Some people have SPOTLESS cars and houses. I wonder if their lives are as empty. Other people have a really tough time keeping spaces organized and usable. They clearly lack structure. And others seem to have everything balanced just right. That’s what I aspire to. Finding the order in the chaos, finding a spot for all the wood in a convenient nook, out of the way, but visible so I don’t forget to use it.
My job is not like any other job. My job is my life. My work is my love. Life is messy. I think being good at it is keeping it under a semblance of control. And documenting it. Of course.