I managed to turn a long weekend into an extra long four day weekend! Yay. One of my jobs entails seven and a half hours a week, but once it's spread across almost three days it feels like I'm at work all the time. So I've been setting boundaries and guarding them and keeping one week day as work and volunteering free as possible. Today was my day off for this week, and with all the house work done and rain falling outside, I decided to make cards. Once it fined up I walked to the shops, caught up with a colleague (whoops, that was work) and stocked up on groceries. The day was topped off with choir practice. Noice.
Part time work has become an important value for me - I hope to never work full time again. Sometimes I feel guilty about that, with everyone else rushing around like crazy and most people having too little time to do everything they want. It seems almost selfish to have time to myself and be at home without the socially acceptable justification of being home with the kids. I joke about my maternity leave without the maternity, or claim to be on the path to early retirement, because mostly I'm not too rushed and I have space to tootle along and enjoy the world around me. I like it like that - and why not? We want to live a simpler life for environmental and justice reasons and can afford to take the foot off a bit.
I don't want to die regretting that I didn't enjoy life and instead missed out on the amazing things all around. Financial security is one ideal to aim for, but I'd rather less money and more peace. What's life all about anyway? As a society we have a whole lot of goals and values I'm just not convinced on - lifestyle and status and comfortable retirement. Of course I don't want an uncomfortable retirement, but it is possible to be happy with less and squeeze every last drop of joy out of each day. Right now. No waiting for that distant retirement.
It's a nice ideal but I admit that even with part time work I don't live in the moment every day, or even most days. However, I am trying to fashion a space in my life for just being. For noticing the finches and talking to the chickens, urging on the sprouting corn and smelling the roses, creating beauty and living consciously, hanging out with Frank and having time for friends.
David Roberts at grist
calls it the medium chill
. I get what he's saying, that society is aiming for the big chill in retirement when, with different choices, we could enjoy a medium chill right now. But I reckon the medium chill right now is
the big chill. It is for me anyway.
We're all different, and if you love your job and find it satisfying and fulfilling and want to be there every day - that's fantastic! But if work is just a means to an end... maybe you could join me in some chillin'.