Even though when I moved part of the plan was to slow things down, I’ve been busy, busy, busy lately.
Mostly, it was just a matter of timing, that a lot of things happened around the same time as the move did, and that’ll be changing very soon. Last week, the Scarleteen boards were closed to give myself and the volunteers a break from direct service, and during their downtime, I’ve been trying to catch up on some professional writing and a whole pile of administrative work. I have a desk full of filing and invoicing to get done today, and several email boxes that need some serious cleaning and catchup. Being able to get this kind of stuff done with very little direct service work on my own part has been a lot easier, and I need to make that happen for myself more often. It’s just really hard to make administrative work a priority when there are young people to care for with all manner of crises. Especially since not only are they in need, I hate the admin work, which doesn’t help.
In a couple of days, I’m going to be taking a handful of days off so that I can finish unpacking and settling in here. Then, towards the end of August, I’m taking a full week off. I’ve been trying to remind myself that not only do I need downtime both to be effective in my work, but to retain my sanity, and as well, I may not always be able to be my own boss like I have been and even have the ability to do that. Considering how much of my life I have been self-employed for, I’ve really kind of blown it a lot of time time. For sure, self-employeds do tend to work even more hours than folks employed by others, but there is a flexibility we should at least take advantage of. And yet, year after year, I go weeks without a day off wake up early every day and work into the night, even at times I a) really don’t have to and b) really am not being compensated to. I’ve just got to get better at that. Thankfully, moving here seems like it’s going to help.
But I didn’t stop by here to talk about work. Well, not really. What I wanted to talk about was trees and their work.
Everywhere I look here, there are trees. Outside every window, lining every walk. Pacific Northwest trees aren’t the wide, bushy trees I grew up with in the midwest before so many of them started going away to make more and more room for more and more buildings. Some of them are as tall as city blocks.
I was laying in the hammock last week, gazing up at them above me, and was struck by questions for them I get asked myself about what I do all the time. Why do you keep doing the work you do? What if nothing huge ever comes of it? Why keep plodding on, especially at times no one seems to be recognizing how hard it is for you to do what you do or why it matters?
Obviously, I can only guess at their answers: I’m not (yet) a tree whisperer. But when I thought about it, and just kept looking at them, it occurred to me that the trees are self-accomplished. Certainly, there are big ecological benefits to their being here and doing what they do. But even if there were not, you look at trees like this and it’s clear that not only are they great just in the being, do they achieve greatness just by their slow, methodical and constant growth, they achieve absolute majesty. We’re awestruck and humbled just looking at them, trying to grasp what they are, how beautiful and amazing they are.
But I don’t think they aspire to that. In other words, I don’t believe that greatness or majesty is their aspiration, even though both are their achievements. Instead, it seems to me that they simply have the desire, the patience and the persistence to grow and to never stop trying to keep growing.
… and that if that’s what any of us have going on, we get the same deal. No matter what we may or may not achieve, how long we have to plod on without what look like results to ourselves or anyone else, even on the days no one recognizes all we’ve done, we’re at greatness and majesty because we grow and refuse to stop growing.