Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

I suppose if there is a reckoning in middle age, it’s a tragic sense that you have been formed by things, and sent hither and thither by those things, and put in a frenzy and made to run around the place, and up and down the house in the service of those things, and they were not real. They were the product of your upbringing or conditioning or gender or social class. And I think there’s a certain point where suddenly the grip of all of that on you loosens. It’s like a stage set beginning to sort of crumble, and you start to see it wobbling, and I think you can get some really startling and frightening perspectives on identity once you start looking at it from there. The thought that you’ve wasted your entire life in the service of things that didn’t really exist – that you were in a prison where the door, in fact, was open, and you’ve sat there all this time . . .

~ Rachel Cusk, in an interview by Sheila Heti (Paris Review, Art of Fiction No. 246, Spring 2020)


Photo: Rachel Cusk in NY Times

And what a bargain it is…

Suppose you found a bargain so incredible
you stood there stunned for a moment
unable to believe that this thing could be
for sale at such a low price: that is what happens
when you are born, and as the years go by
the price goes up and up until, near the end
of your life, it is so high that you lie there
stunned forever.

~ Ron Padgett, “Bargain Hunt” (jacketmagazine.com, April 2005)


Notes:

Riding Metro North. In the Groove.

Portrait of artist Goran Kosanovic holding his painting on foil by Dragan Todorović

5:57 am train.
Metro North south to Grand Central.
New day. Another Monday.
A slow pan over the prior week, and weekend.
Work. Read. Eat. Toilet. Sleep. (Some). Do over.
And, now, same track, same rails, same destination.
And I sit basking in It.

It’s a Mid Term self evaluation.
The Grade: Content.
Work. Read. Eat. Toilet. Sleep (Some). Do Over.
And content with that.
I shift in my seat, close my eyes and contemplate that.

And then,
Here it comes: [Read more…]

Privileged? Check

Lou-Weiss

Lou Weiss, is a carpet salesman in Pittsburgh. These are excerpts from Privileged? Check Let me count the ways—without embarrassment:

Somewhere along the way, privilege went from something to be grateful for to something to be embarrassed about. As I approach 60, I have been doing the stocktaking prompted by such round-number birthdays and have decided to “give back,” as the saying goes, by performing a public service. I hereby declare myself the World’s Most Privileged Person…

What makes me so privileged? Let’s get the easy ones out of the way, those that are accidents of birth: male, white, straight. I have continued to self-identify as such…

Next come those privileges that reflect the hard work of others: Middle-class-moving-to-upper-middle-class upbringing by two wonderful parents who are still vital. I live in a country where my God-given freedom was articulated by the Founders and is maintained by the selflessness of U.S. soldiers…

Now come my own choices that make me so privileged. I have always been a pretty hard worker, have few vices and am fairly frugal. This allowed me to pay for the schooling of four daughters and make substantial charitable contributions. I don’t know what a single malt scotch is, let alone ever tasted one. Much of my wardrobe is from Costco. And to this day I can’t bring myself to purchase blueberries out of season. [Read more…]

When that happens, you do lose some of the white-hot intensity of your younger years

KwangHo-Shin-art-painting

Ryan Avent has a lovely essay about the reasons modern professionals tend to put in such long hours. As he says, it’s not just drudgery: for many people work is satisfying, a source of a lot more than just money. It can, of course, also be a form of avoidance, a way to avoid the messiness of real life. But anyway, for those lucky enough to have the right kind of work, it’s much more than a paycheck.

I just thought I’d add a note from further down the pike, as someone who’s a quarter-century older than Avent: the nature of the reward from work does change as you get older, although it doesn’t necessarily go away. The phrase that runs through my mind is “the end of ambition.” At a certain point you realize that it’s not about winning another prize, literally or figuratively, getting a promotion, whatever. (And yes, it’s easier to reach that state of mind if you have been lucky enough to get all the prizes you wanted.) Instead, it becomes about the craft, the service, just doing well what you hope you do well. When that happens, you do lose some of the white-hot intensity of your younger years, and (in my case, at least) start trying to make up at least a bit for other things you didn’t do. (Music!) But there’s still plenty of work to do, and plenty of reasons to do it, with — maybe — some new-found serenity.

~ Paul Krugman speaks Truth in: Work, Life, and Everything


Notes:

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