I work therefore I am


It is New Year’s Eve 2011. I am, by choice, sitting at home in the corner of my ‘Miami’ sofa (cream-colored leather) looking out the window at the fog-made coronas around my neighbors’ back yard lights. It is pleasantly quiet. I can hear mumbling voices which must be a ways away, in the adjacent parking lot I think. And there is a hum, like a large, distant piece of machinery. I am not scheduled for a post. I don’t have anything better, pithier, or more heartwarming to say than anyone else about this harsh, electric, vital year. But I really wanted to talk about why I am doing what I am doing.

There was only one year in my life when I was required to work on New Year’s Eve. I did, of course. I took a decent attitude to work and even gave in (a little) to our silly, hushed midnight celebration. I wanted to be ecstatic. NYE 2006 marked the end of one of the worst months of my entire life. It marked the beginning of a year in which I could look forward to never having a month like December 2006 again. But at midnight January 1, 2007, I still had 12 more hours to work. And having seen what can happen in that amount of time, I was actually just terrified that everything would go to hell, continuously, for the next several hours. There was no champagne toast that year. There was coffee with flavored creamer, Ed’s specialty, and a tremendous amount of kindness. And commitment and determination.

I have a number of flaws. This is one of the ironic joys of being human. One of them is my stubbornness, which is kind enough to double as determination when the chips are down, or I need to get a paper done, or I just believe in what I’m doing more than I believe in what I’m feeling about it. One of my greatest accomplishments (possibly ever) is making it through NYE 2006 and not giving into the fear, or the painful pressure of the workload. Not becoming useless or dreary or crabby for my colleagues. At a time when I needed to work hard I did, honestly, completely and without complaint.

I like to work. I like to work a lot. I like to feel that I am being useful and helpful, and I am abundantly grateful every hour for the deceptively simple gift of being whole and able-bodied. I see work as a way to give thanks for that. I grew up with the ‘superstition’ of doing the things on NYE that you want to bring with you into the New Year. As a child that meant cleaning up my room and doing all the laundry and the dishes so one could go into the new year with a ‘clean slate.’ As an adult I have tried most of the options. Club parties, house parties, a quiet night in, but I have found little more satisfying than staying home and doing some work. Not because I have to (okay sometimes I have to), but because I want to renew that stubborn part of myself that does. So I’m going to start doing some work. And I’m going to have my New Year’s fizzy drink (root beer) and eat some festive cookies. And hope that next year I have the luxury of doing the exact same thing.

A lucky, healthy, safe and happy new year to our troubled, amazing world.

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