i can’t keep playing my life like whac-a-mole. whac-a-mole as the daily grind is a pretty good metaphor, but so violent and adversarial in the end. and lamenting my (mostly) charmed life as sisyphean in its monotony and myself as a punished or martyred chosen one isn’t working for me either. to be me, to live my most outrageous life, i must find my gratitude for the opportunity to work through the most thankless of tasks. and upon that assertion, as is my mood this morning, my crankiest me wants to throw down some banana peels, shake out my umbrella, hide the wet floor signs, grab some popcorn and wait for optimistic me to bust ass and cry. comic relief. and fiber.
so how do we keep up with life’s most repetitive activities without straining patience tendons or irritating enthusiasm ligaments? i know that part of it for me is a regular core work out on my physioball of sarcasm. but i’m guessing at this point, the enlightened would use some insipidly simple phrase like, “you must maintain balance in your life, grasshopper,” or throw me some shit about the meditative state achieved during common chores like shoveling dog poop in rain boots. (pun intended…once i accidentally wrote it.)
while in this mood i’ll also take a moment to decry the recent proliferation and viral nature of weepy motivational speeches delivered by over-achievers touting the power and importance of “balance,” of putting your family first and always remembering and honoring what’s truly important. they like to throw the adage around, attempting to massage the cliche out of it before hurling it at the crowd…something along the lines of, “no one ever wishes on their death bed that they’d spent more time at the office.”
ra, ra. sis (yphus) boom ba. of course i believe in balance and getting your priorities in order (…blah, blah, blah)…but none of these over-achievers actually lived that life. every one of them “sweated the small stuff” they tell us to blow off. these powerpoint weilding generals, IT icons and terminally ill PhDs…all manner of folks who excel through insane dedication…they turn to their admirers in the end and say, essentially, do NOT follow the path i followed…you will be happier if you put your family and soul first, at which point you can still reach impossible professional heights and enjoy your family and personal life all in one happy, glowing snow globe of fulfillment.
these speeches all come from recovering workaholics who spent lifetimes whac-ing important moles…usually of one specific mole species. their historically significant single-mindedness makes for biopics on the Discovery Channel or NOVA. their spouses and children admire their work and wonder what intimacy with them would look like…how it would feel to laugh their asses off together shoveling dog poop and making faces at each other, later celebrating a mole whac-ed for the weekend, even if it was of the less glorious variety. or how it would feel to see the object of their admiration bask in their attention instead of the attention of other generals, IT icons and PhDs.
the point is, i know it’s about balance…between the little things and big things, self and others, achievement versus fulfillment, the everydays and the once-in-a-whiledays. i know i’m writing this, starting from grumbly sarcasm and snark, to remind myself of that more than anything…to throw a little washer on the side of pleasantry and hope…to outweigh the bags of garbage that sit on my back deck after weeks of travel, sick kid and sick me. this little exercise, with time gifted by my over-sleeping toddler, rebalances my day’s heaviest weights…the ones i saw all around me upon waking late with belly and back aching. it’s a little fix, an attitude repair, a hit of fulfillment on yet another morning full of moles and their holes.
i’ll try today to treat them sweetly and usher them back to their abodes without my mallet or a frustrated holler. they are part of my life. they are pets, like the dog that makes so much weighty poop but gives back so much love and security…the dog who spoons as well as most humans and whose large-poop-making abilities come from the satisfying warmth inside his giant black fur coat and heart. and i’ll try to enjoy this whole balancing act…understanding that cranky balances out something (too good of a mood?). i’ll try to remember that these icons are mostly right about the happiness part, and that i’ve pretty well pushed achievement out of my top five – live with kindness, love my family, protect human life and dignity, give through service and pay my bills.
my day is slipping away now. it’s time for me to pet-a-mole, feed-a-mole and/or put-a-mole-soundly-back-to-bed-until-next-time. i’m tired of whac-ing. (take that where you feel you must, you 7th grader.)