"The work you do is dense". - my old/new again boss from the Overture Center.
Erika and I have been having a discourse lately about the guilt and issues involved in self-employment. One of her mentors and friends, a local photographer named Jim Wildeman (such a wonderful guy) pointed out to her a couple of weeks ago that the kind of work she does isn't something one does 40 hours a week, but then that supportive comment was counteracted nearly immediately by a friend with a brutal sense of humor who claimed she "doesn't have a job". I have been struggling with structure - in fact, working *too* hard, not taking enough breaks, etc. Today, one of my old mentors and a good friend called and we talked for a bit, and he said "How's the whole self-employment schtick going?" and I said "Great. So long as I don't stay in my pyjamas." My only real distraction is either a)internet (hello blog and flickr!) or b)doing other "work" - cleaning the house (Erika and I keep a clean house!) or taking care of the demi-business that fills in the rest of my life - maintaining discussion groups, working on my novel and poetry, etc. Stuff that is important but doesn't pay.
Then again, a new person in my life noted to me today that he doesn't think he'd have the discipline to be self-employed, which made me realize that even over-applied discipline (eg working *too* hard) does count for a lot. I have watched both my brothers attempt to be self-employed, and I learned from them that it is *hard* work. There are no customers (or bosses, more likely) waiting for you to show up. There are less people. And something about just leaving the house can really help a lot.
I joke that EVP, around the corner from my house, is my office.
I like the Overture boss, Jacquie's statement the best. It feels very respectful, and matches how Dharma teachers discuss the teachings, as small seeds that appear tiny and/or empty on receiving, but unpack over time and expand, and in fact are quite dense. Erika and I related her statement to a program on black holes I saw last week on Public Television. The main gist, so far as 20 experts could barely express, is that black holes are both incredibly spacious and incredibly dense. That sounds like no big deal, until you realize those two things are never seen as the same in "ordinary physics". Einstein didn't even think that black holes could exist, so direly do they break all the freaking rules of physics.
Jacquie made the density statement yesterday, while we were on the phone, arranging to get me back at the Overture ushering part time until my Marquette University job kicks in in a year. She said it with such understanding and so matter of factly that it nearly knocked me off my seat. She said that anyone who can't see that isn't looking very deep, and that's true, of course. But why would anyone bother to look deeply at a structure so unlike what is familiar to them? Really, I am not being sarcastic. Not only is it incomprehensible to a lot of folks I know (though not most of my close friends, quite a few of whom are self-employed and/or artists!) that I can work at home and call it work, but that choosing to cut my pay - in half! - is a preferable option. I am not being a hippie snot here - I won't tell you all to quit yer day jobs (though I have influenced a few to do so!), but I *too* am amazed at how well it is working for me, and that in itself shows how biased I was, and often still am, against the idea.
In other news, I began my online class with 7+8th graders yesterday and I am having a BALL. I have kids asking what creative writing is (it is a creative writing class themed on immigration and family and culture), and show some serious insight and compassion about slavery, for instance. The whole gamut. The class is online, so the forum is open all the time. So far, the feedback from the employer is great - I emailed my supervisor there that I am having a ball, and she replied that that much is obvious, because I am already doing such a kick ass job. I meet the kids next week for the first time (the first "real week" of the class), and for three more times in person during the nine week class. It's a gifted and talented course, and the chances to get really deep into issues are endless, literally. It's a riot - I was, and still am a bit petrified about educating a population my last major contact with was *being* that age, but teaching really is teaching, and I have a great support base of middle school educators who are sweetly ensuring I don't reinvent the wheel. And these kids are very no b-s, even more than my adult students.
Off to Milwaukee this weekend to pick up the first of Shambhala sacred texts to study, preparing myself for seminary next year (I am hoping for summer, but may need to go off in February to VT, immediately after the online class is done). I, again, am intimidated by the process, but enlivened. It is becoming clearer and clearer by the moment (I can't even watch a freaking film without pulling out major dharmic elements, which reminds me that you all should see the Princess and the Warrior if you haven't already) that dharma teachings reach me in a way that nothing else, save life itself, does. In fact, working with them so intimately on a daily basis helps me to touch life itself much deeper, and vice versa.
It is amazing to me how much I am still packing into my life, but how not being at Rainbow in between all these bits not only makes my life feel more spacious, but makes me somehow crave "things" (objects and also distractions of any kind), less.
Something about the black hole of self-employment (and I cannot express enough how Erika and I love this analogy for its truth and complexity in physics, not because it depresses us!) really leaves me open, even if its to my own issues, sometimes...
Last but not least, a shout out to D, who's made the last couple of weeks' adjustment to winter much warmer. : )