On Duty, Floor Plans, and Ants

As I look around at the unpacked, unsorted stacks of cds, old diaries, pillows, and toys which I ought to be finding a place for, I want to mention the pleasure of doing one’s duty.

There are two possible reasons, in my case, for accomplishing anything. The first is that I seek achievment, the boast of having done something. The second is that I ought to.

Now my I believe the second reason is the more noble. I also think that it weeds stress out of my life when I do things in their order, and simply because it is the next thing to do, rather than trying to hold in my mind all that I want to achieve and plotting endlessly to make it happen.

We often speak of how our lives today are more stressful, in spite of all our labor-saving inventions, than those of our ancestors. I have also heard that it’s the mark of a middle class society that personal acheivment and material possessions are the measurement by which people measure themselves and one another. Putting these things together, I wonder whether we aren’t all going insane in a zoo of endless drivenness.

Sure, there will always be some people who are driven, who will “make the world go round” economically. No doubt they were given those talents for a reason. What’s really sad is that our society lacks stratification. Everyone is in the middle class, everyone is pushed to conform to its values, everyone must pretend to be driven, to be oriented toward acheivment and possession. Why couldn’t our forefathers, I wonder, have been satisfied with a society in which some people are nobles, some artists, some businessmen, and some farmers? If I lived in a society like that, I would either have married a nobleman or a farmer, I’m certain. Never a businessman and probably not an artist (inspired people make me tired.) As it is we were born into a society in which moneymaking was everyone’s destiny, and where everyone had to be an amateur artist just in order to be respected, and not out of any sense of what art was made for.

He will have to escape somehow, and take me with him.

***

We’ve just moved into yet another appartment in yet another Midwestern state. It’s the most expensive appartment we’ve ever had, and at the same time the seediest. Apparently this is a costly section of town to live in.

What’s really funny is that even though the materials are cheap (the bowl of the bathroom sink, for instance, is actually made of flexible plastic) there seem to be certain expectations that folks around here have about floor plans.

We have a walk-in closet three times larger than any we’ve ever had before. I’m teasing Scottie that I will have to buy some more clothes in order to fill it up, and to my delight he actually looks frightened. (Surely by now he would have figured out that I’m more likely to buy music or books or trips to WI than clothes?)

We have a balcony, too high in the air for any bugs to find us. There are holes in the screen, the railings are treacherous and the floor boards in a terrifying state. But we have a balcony!

And a dressing room. I kid you not. With a large mirror, a counter long enough for all of our cosmetics and toiletries, and another cheap sink! Other than the sanitary joys of not having to store my toothbrush in the bathroom, I wasn’t sure what I was going to use the dressing room for, but last night I realized that the mirror is great to excercise in front of. You can see if you are doing the moves properly, and at the same time you have a constant reminder in front of your eyes as to why you are doing them. Let’s just say I did twice as many push-ups, jumping jacks, flutter kicks, ballet poses, and crunches as I’ve ever done before. And this morning I had to wear a skirt because my jeans were too loose. Hooah for floor plans.

***

How steadily the upheaving

minor Herculeans

crawl

 

bearing Earth on their shoulders

and plunging down to Hades in the dark,

they seek the roots of things

and cities built thereon…

 

…then scurry in soundless frenzy

When hands too big to see

Draw up their dandelion haven

And most of their comrades don’t escape.

 

However, many cities never committ the error

Of being built under weeds in flowerbeds.

2 thoughts on “On Duty, Floor Plans, and Ants

  1. I love what you write here! I too wish that everything wasn’t monetarily driven. I wonder why people are not satisfied with having enough or a little more then enough. Why has the “american dream” become the dream revolving around monetary gain instead of the real freedoms that we fought for in the first place? Kids are never happy with one thing…they get that thing and they want the next. Me, personally, I am happy for a day when I can take a nap…a day when I can rest and watch DVD’s all day long without interruption. I would be happy in a cottage, in a small village, someplace peaceful and serene. My kids would go nuts in a place like that. What happened to being happy to just be? Hmmm.

    Like

  2. Why indeed? That’s what I spend much of my thoughtful time investigating. It’s worth finding out which streams of thought the ideas and sentiments in our heads come from, rather than assuming they are simply wrong or right.

    Thanks for stopping!

    Like

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