…or we can move to Sweden


Ohhh horoscopes. Yes, I have skeptically ‘read into’ them for fun from time to time, trying to find justification for the things that I have done or to try to understand why things happen when and how they happen. But really, anyone who is looking for an answer in them can find it. The mystic sense is fun, but it’s all just hoping and wishing that things are what you think they are. It’s like when something is unclear and there is the potential of a number of consequences – a person goes missing, lab tests come back with some questionable results… – and we convince ourselves of an outcome, for better or for worse. But of course all we can do is wait to see what the real story is, and if our gut was right, we may read into it to try to find justification.  

I remember growing up sitting and waiting by the window in the black armchair with the flowers for mom to come home. She was inevitably late, but not just slightly, especially in my kid’s “a minute seems like eternity” understanding of time. As the time ticked by, I became more and more wracked with fear that something terrible had happened (“Maybe this time she won’t come back! Maybe there was a car accident. Maybe she’s left us…. maybe…”) and simultaneously feeling guilty and sad about all the bad thoughts I had had or all the mean things I had said or done or that I hadn’t told her I loved her enough. And when finally I could bear it no longer (after thinking I couldn’t take it anymore at least three times, but calming myself down just to go through the cycle of building the dread again and again) that maroon taurus lurched into the driveway, and I was overcome with anger. Anger for feeling so worried about nothing, anger for her being late, anger for her lack of understanding that I was there, sitting and getting worked up, because she had said she’d be home by 4 and now it was 5 pm with no real reason or apology.

In situations of fear and dearth of answers, I’ve convinced myself of many many things (mostly medical ailments, we’re dealing with a paranoid hypochondriac here). When we don’t have any information that is fact to cling onto to help us orient ourselves, we turn to signs or other methods to help us sort out situations. I think that horoscopes are like God and people use them to cope with reality and the challenges or unclear moments that they are experiencing, or to use as an outlet to explain why things are so great (“I’m doing so well, thank you god/my horoscope showed a burst of energy and productivity in the middle of the month, that’s why I’m getting so much accomplished”). But as cool as shamans are, let’s be honest: people get better medical attention with lab tests, x-rays, and actual medicine.

I can say for certain that I prefer clear evidence, not vague predictions. But it’s true that sometimes it is fun to let your mind wander into the land of ‘what if’ and allow your imagination to get carried away…. whether it be to a morbid and awful place or a magical one and even to fantasy.

Speaking of getting carried away, I think that taking time away from the grind is crucial. It’s so amazing that you had the summer off — and in fact one of the reasons why I loved teaching was exactly for that. We are conditioned from our early childhood to have the summer to recuperate, to let our minds expand in different ways that sitting in the classroom, to get out into the elements and to pump our bodies with the nutrients that summer brings forth. Even though the days are longer, after work it’s hard to be motivated to make use of the nice weather, especially if you’re cooped up in the city and it’s swelteringly hot. Being in the Catskills during the summer is simply divine: even if it’s pouring outside, it’s still refreshing and making it outside nonetheless is a given. And now that there’s wifi…… wow, anything is possible!

Basically the moral of any story is that office life sucks. Even with my wonderful colleagues, I can barely survive working in an office. What’s great about working from wherever is that you can control your own schedule. If you have a call at 3pm, you can work your day around then, and take advantage of the sunshine while it’s there, or take care of that house task that has been demanding attention, and bake as cake simultaneously!

On your point to people bragging about how much time they spend at work, all I can say is disgusting. How some people spend time baffles me – office jobs, pointless work, and doing things they aren’t passionate about. Yes, I have an office job (per se, I can work remotely if I need to), but I feel like my work actually makes a difference in people’s lives and I enjoy my work! That’s really important to me. I mean, we spend the majority of our conscious lives working, so if one doesn’t actually find meaning and pleasure in one’s work, what’s even the point of living?

Sweden just shortened the work day to 6 hours. Studies show that long work days cramp productivity, and that if people have more time for their out-of-work lives, they are more efficient when they are at work. I think this is a great idea. (Yet another way Sweden wins, you may be interested to know that there buying sex is illegal, but selling is not, which doesn’t criminalize the workers, but the clients — usually it’s the other way around — and this has 1) almost entirely eliminated the demand for sex services for fear of prosecution and 2) shifted the national understanding of sex work in general.)

What I can say about my ‘career’ (if that’s what you call it) now is that I’m doing what I enjoy, I am learning a lot, and I’m communicating with people who can teach me things and with whom I can collaborate. I’ve also been practicing saying ‘no’ :). I just wish I could incorporate a bit more nature into my life on a daily basis… and not just the flowers sitting on my table or the small parks that I walk through. I wish the boundary between inside and outside were blurred, and that moving between these spaces were so simple and organic that it required no added time – like in the Catskills where the doors are more placeholders than having significant meaning (except, of course, keeping bears out!).

Keep your head up and persevere! And take care of your health!!!!
I know it’s stressful to find the balance of self-advocation and proving yourself and just doing what YOU want, but I think that as you make your space for yourself in the world, you need to do a bit of all three to get anywhere. If you just go down one path, you probably won’t get too far.


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