Saturday, October 24, 2009

Towards becoming an overwork atheist

The other day during class, I took out a container of the vegetable fried rice that the babe and I made the night before for dinner and started to eat it. The girl I sit next to turned to me and asked "how do you have time to cook?"

It was more an accusation than a question.

My initial thought was "how would I not have time to cook?" I mean, I have to eat.

What I said: "I just don't do other things."

I don't pretend that I never have those feelings of anger or jealousy when I see that someone else seems to have time for the things that I miss - for crafting or reading or being a member of a choir - all those things that I feel like I've left behind since law school.

It's made me think about a passage from Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle:

"Overwork actually has major cachet in a society whose holy trinity is efficiency, productivity, and material acquisition. Complaining about it is the modern equivalent of public prayer."

As miserable as I can get about law school, the truth is that what I do or don't do is the result of my own choices. I choose to cook, and the result is that sometimes I don't do other things. Those other things may be homework; they may be hanging out with friends; they may be sleeping an extra hour; sometimes, it's bathing. (Yes, I'm putting that out there.) The reality is that there are only 24 hours in a day, and I make choices about how to spend them.

I am tired of participating in the ritual complaining. And I'm tired of feeling guilty in the moments where I make the choice to do something nurturing instead of reveling in self-pity at my own "overwork."

There are so many people in the world who are truly overworked, who truly cannot find time to sleep or nurture themselves because they barely have enough time to make enough to house themselves and their families. There are those who work multiple jobs just to eat. And yet, I don't think those are the people complaining. They don't have time.

I complain - a law student with a beautiful apartment, classes four days a week, a job ready for me after graduation, a wonderful girlfriend, and weekly meals that include fresh meat from the local farmers market. Though it may come across as such, I’m not interested here in self-flagellation. I'm not alone in my behavior, and I don't feel the need to condemn myself for it.

What I do want is to recognize reality and give myself permission to walk away from the overwork dogma and the requisite complaining that goes along with it.

I'm sure in the weeks and months to come, you'll find complaints on this blog - I'm human, after all. But I hope that sometimes in the midst of my complaining, I'll remember back to this post and relax a bit.


Virgin In The Volcano said...

Law students lie. I'll bet your inquisitor made a three-course meal just last night!

Anonymous said...

great post. I too am trying to let go and live a little, sometimes it's for 5 minutes here and there and other times a whole day off from thinking about classes/lectures/grading/writing. And I always feel better when I do let go of the guilt and just dig in and have fun. And yes, I could do with a little less of my own complaining. Thanks for reminding me of all of the above.

(In)Sanity Gal said...

Dig in and have fun. I might make that my new motto.

Eliza said...

Thanks for this. Perspective is such a difficult thing to maintain. Before reading this, I was just bitching about not having time for cooking. After reading, realized I spent time watching tv. Choices, even when they are unconscious choices.

The Exit said...

Right on!

Natalie said...

this happened to me the other day. It made me feel like i was a bad law student or something and I am going to fail- I have stressed ever since the comment-- I feel guilty now if I choose to cook dinner, take Saturday off, or even sit down to watch TV for God's sake!! This post really helped me put things in perspective. I hope this isn't just wishful thinking- but I like to think that when I sit down to do work I am efficient and maybe others just aren't and that's why law school consumes every minute of their day. Thanks for your blog-- it makes me not take life so seriously!

TDot said...

I'm still going to complain -- though about the limits of my culinary skills, not the lack of time to use them ;) Appreciate the wisdom here

(In)Sanity Gal said...

Natalie - You're not a bad law student!! Everyone does it differently, and it's okay to take time to breath and eat.

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