The joy and end of indolence
That cup of tea was delicious. This book is devouring me as fast as I can return the favor. And it’s just cold enough in my apartment to make the blanket over my feet feel like shelter at its softest. It’s 1:15 in the afternoon and I’m reading on my couch. The sheer indolence of it is magnificent. Why haven’t I done more of this?
Well, because it’s really hard to be unproductive. Or rather, it’s difficult to be willingly unproductive. The Italians call it “Il dolce far niente” and we Americani have a helluva hard time with it. In the off-season months of my irregular employment, I’ve had many chances to do this, only done it a few times, and nearly never enjoyed it as much as I am right now. But today is different. Why? Because it’s over.
They say the only constant is change, and tomorrow my days will switch tracks. I’ll go back to the reality of waking up long before my body wants me to, yanked from nurturing myself with sleep through the rude interjection of electronic noises given a pretense of non-abrasiveness in a pathetic attempt to deny the reality that alarm clocks just suck. Even when they play soothing Turkish pop music. (My music collection is a bit haphazard.) You know I’m right. (Unless you’re a morning person, in which case I don’t understand your kind at all.)
I’ll make breakfast in a world slowly growing noisier, though my only direct examples will be the slight scuffs and creaks of my neighbors doing the same above and around me. I’ll be on my bike while the air still doesn’t like me, and arrive at the train with cold in my ears, joining the stream of others who don’t really want to be in public yet, and marinate in the metal scream of our beloved BART system’s abused rails. Then up among the bustle of the Financial District, San Francisco, and off to work.
Because tomorrow I begin a new job. My time teaching at the IRC seems to be finished, and I leave with affection for the people I met there, gratitude at what they showed me, and nostalgia for our time together. But sadly, profoundly sadly, ethical work doesn’t bring paychecks in our current version of reality. I’ll miss the people, the task, and the 5 minute bicycle commute. So goodbye refugees who need the most help, and hello international students who are also worth teaching.
My new employer has a veneer of Old World respectability, educational facilities unlike anything I’ve ever gotten to use (oh the technology! And a text book!), and forms another facet of the essential zeitgeist necessity of bringing together humanity at a time when its headlines and self-serving politicians seem intent on pulling us apart. I am not reporting for work of drudgery. Oh no. I am shifting to a younger set, better equipped for progress, better positioned for growth, and I can’t wait to dig in.
But that’s tomorrow. Today, I am going to relax and far niente in the way that one can only do on the last day of vacation. This blanket is warm, this book is fascinating, and it’s time for another cup of tea.