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Saturday, September 05, 2009

Work Junkie: It's Hard to Rest

Twice in our married life Karen has bought me hammocks. With visions of lazy afternoons in the back yard, sleeping with a book on my chest, I've opened them with enthusiasm, only to set the hammock aside for 'another day'.

In my library I have stacks of books that I hope to read 'when I get the time'.

When Mom died ten years ago, I kept bags full of her unfinished projects - rugs, knitting, needlepoint, etc. - for that day, some time, somewhere, in my spare time, that I would learn how to hook rugs, knit, and needlepoint, to finish those projects in tribute to her.

These are just a few examples of one of my major character flaws: I'm a work junkie.

I'm not a work-aholic. The workaholic is that Type A guy you know who's always on the phone and never stops talking about work. A workaholic seems to work constantly in spite of himself: making lists, late nights at work (for work), eating on the run. He's always striving for the next big thing - house, car, second house, etc. - and yet never seems satisfied with those things.

No, that's not me. I'm a work junkie. I get a fix, a high, from working.

A work junkie enjoys work for work's sake. A workholic works to produce in a way that never satisfies him.

A work junkie gets a rush from his labors. A workaholic can't seem to stop, even though there's no real joy in his efforts.

A work junkie has heroes, like Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Captain Thomas Lipton (of the Lipton Tea Co., who allegedly used to have 'work is fun' placed on the tags of all his products). A workaholic is his own hero, not striving to work for a nobler cause, but for himself.

I've caught myself on more than one occastion saying, "Work is fun."

Several years ago I bought a 'reel mower'. You know, the old fashioned kind you push that has a cylinder of curved blades that cuts the grass. Think Amish. Friends and neighbors thought it was so "green." Karen thought it was foolish. I just thought it was great hard work. And I used it until it broke and I couldn't fix it.

As a work junkie I find it hard to rest. I do rest, but I feel guilty about it. Even my entertainment is work related. When I go to movies, I always think about whether or not they'd be good for the folks at Church or at Timbercrest. I don't read novels (even though I've written one)... they don't help me with work. My preference on TV is for things that help me work: garden shows, cooking shows, how-to shows.

Even now, while I'm writing this, I hear my neighbors outside running a leaf blower and I think, "I need to get out and get busy."

I know I need to rest. My body is 51 years old now and I can't do what I used to do. I know that I need to make time for myself: my stress level and blood pressure will appreciate it. But it's hard.

I see so many things I want to do. I'd love to open my own business. I've thought of all sorts of businesses to start: a root beer brewery, an artisan mall, an events management company for classical and folk musicians, a radio variety show (like Prairie Home Companion) called "Roann Saturday Night," a nursing home that doesn't use medications (only diet, therapy, exercise, and natural treatments), a cemetery that only charges a minimal amount for a plot and everyone has the same stone, and any number of other ideas.

I'd love to be a philanthropist. I'd use my millions to open a high quality, free, private school for rural kids, that would focus on rural life skills, classical learning, and values important to sustain our rural culture (like, hard work). I'd build a community band stand in the park here in Roann so that all summer we could have all sorts of music playing each week for people to come and enjoy. I'd build a carillon out at Peoria Church so that in the summer evenings the bells would praise God over the rolling valley, and fishermen and farmers and children would stop and think about their souls.

Just thinking about all this work gets me jazzed.

It's hard to rest when you have all this going on in your head. So much work to do and so little time.

Which reminds me. Karen's spending the day on the river with some friends.
Alex is asleep on the davenport.
And I think I hear the garden calling.

Time to get to work.