I didn’t expect to be staying home today, but I woke this morning alternating between shivers and sweats and feeling dizzy if I so much as moved my head. Staying home seemed like the best plan all things considered.

We (teachers, I guess I’m talking about, but probably any conscientious person in any job) put ourselves under enormous strain in order to fulfil what we see as our duties. The current project or upcoming exam always feels like the most important thing in the world and if we don’t get it done, well then… we’ve failed. We are failures. We mean nothing.

But it’s really the job that has the lesser meaning. All those things that we push off and place on hold, all those seemingly non-urgent things? Those are the areas where we should be focussing our lives. Five minutes to lay down together in a cuddled mess with your family, promenading by the sea while all our legs still work, discussing the day – even the boring old bedtime routine (and just there – the small catch up chat with G. which I automatically felt inclined to turn away from to get done with this task) – that’s all the stuff which I disregard, which I sweep to the side and view as secondary to my life. What is my life if it’s not those very things?

Doing vs Being is popping into my head now. And external perceptions and accolades vs the internal satisfaction of a life well lived. Okay. I know. I know. If I don’t have at least some “accomplishments” to mark down in the Book of Things That Last Past Death then I’m going to feel like I had a bit of a pointless life. I’m going to feel disappointed and undistinguished.

It’s just that I’m wrong. It’s very hard to be a Leonardo Da Vinci or a Ghandi or a Stephen Hawking. And I don’t just mean it’s hard to have that level of insight or talent, I mean that it’s a hard decision to make about your life, because the work must be all and what do you give up in order to achieve that. Maybe the very most valuable things.

So we end up trying to half-arse it, put a bit too much into a work that isn’t all that impactful and cost yourself a goodly chunk of the joy of life and wander around feeling unfulfilled, unproductive and also lacking in joy.

I’m actually not saying that we should be every day only sniffing roses, or else pouring our entire souls into Great Works(tm), I actually think balance is possible. It’s more that maybe we shouldn’t think that things are Great Works(tm) when all they are is contributing to the wheel of society. Maybe its really good to realise that you can switch off all that stuff and the world won’t end. And that it’s okay to call in sick even when you have a double Leaving Cert class and their Pre-Exams are in a week’s time.

By the time their actual state exams roll around – sooner even – they won’t remember that I was out on this day. And no one is actually going to appreciate my pushing my health limits, martyring myself and exposing my colleagues to the virus I have.

It’s okay to call in sick when I’m sick. The world will adjust and move on. And when I die, yes even then, the world will adjust and move on. So I had better do all the physical world stuff I care about while I still can, because a day is coming when I won’t be able to.

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Addendum:

Have I been sick less often this year than last? I have a perception that it’s been better but I’ve kept no scientific record. What do you think? I think last April through July I recall having lots of chest pain and heartburn and migraine and I think it’s a lot less frequent now. Of course that stuff didn’t stop me going to work, it just made me more miserable when I had to go in. I think my health has improved.

I appear to have stopped drawing completely in the last few months and I have no impetus to take it up at the moment. That’s really unusual for me for this time of the year. I mean, it’s appreciated in a way because I’m busy, but it worries me all the same. I’m just going to leave it be what it is though. Just like everything else.

Let’s live!

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