Make Em Last, Make Em Last, Make Em Last

So I've run into the whole "sustainability" thing lately. Too many times to be an coinkydink, if you know what I mean.

I've been thinking, and deeply, about why I do what I do. Not the career stuff. I mean we all get jobs and build careers for the usual purposes, money security etc. And a few, a very few, of us have careers and passions that are merged or integrated. But for a lot of us the day to day 9-5 is a means to an end and we have projects on the side (some would insult them by calling "hobbies", but not me), things we love without end.

(luckily my day job is blossoming into something pretty groovy, but I'm not here to talk about that)

For me, there are two avocations; theater (improv primarily and dance) and for lack of a better term, sex positive advocacy (which encompasses LGBTQAPPIetc rights, women's rights, and comprehensive sex education, and support for sex workers).

Neither of those two fields are part of my day to day job description unless you really push the limits of "other duties as assigned (by me)".

A great deal of the time, I'm quite idealistic about being able to incorporate those two passions into my busy life of marriage, parenting, work, friendship. I have a lot of energy, and I want to make a difference and I think, well if I'm strategic, those things will all eventually be braided together in a more seamless way and I'll have impact, I'll make that difference. I CAN DO IT ALL!

And then there are the days, like yesterday, where I think "Oh holy cats, you are an absolutely idiot for trying any of this. Behave yourself and just grow up."

(rarely do I have any kind of middle of the road reaction)

See, I get into this space where it just can't be about the joy I feel doing the thing I'm doing, but about whether or not I'm good enough at any of it for it to be worth (not only my while) the while of the others I'm inflicting/subjecting/gifting my self on instead of doing the dishes. And I'm quite terrible to myself, horribly mean.

That's actually not a very sustainable position to put oneself in.

Bad Jules.

A friend of mine asked the question recently; How do people decide what is sustainable in their lives? I answered something to the effect of, "That which we pay attention to, is sustained. And there is something to that, I think. If we pay attention, deep attention to one thing and not another, that first thing will likely bloom and grow while the other stuff drops away. Relationships with people are like that, right? Why not tasks, goals, dreams?

One of the realities of life is that as I've aged and gained responsibility though, I by default have less room to even start to pay attention to things to begin with. And often the things that need attention (like the bills and taxes and laundry) aren't bright and shiny and sexy (like, say, going to the theater). So sometimes the question isn't what is sustainable, but what deserves attention.

I'm still pondering, but as I left work today, I was struck by this John Muir quote (which was part of, you guessed it, a meeting on sustainability).

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

I don't know how that fits in with paying attention to some things but not others, sustaining balance between "work" and "play" or "job" and "passion", but I do think that it's connected somehow. I want my ability to do all these things to last, but I don't seem to be able to do it all, at least not all at the same time.

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