Very soon I'll be completely finished with the workweek cycle that brings on the Sunday Night Blues. For me, the residual panic on Sunday nights is about what's not done - have I finished all the domestic tasks squeezed into weekends? Am I rested? Did I get to see anybody or do anything that I'm too tired to even contemplate the rest of the week? Today's angst - I didn't visit my mother-in-law this weekend, darn it. I wonder how long into retirement it will be before that weekly cadence and the resulting Sunday night anxiety, learned over a lifetime of school and jobs, lasts. Maybe it never goes away.
For many others, unfortunately, there is a heaviness about Sundays beyond the practical, half-finished task list. They actually dread the days ahead; they count the hours. How many times on Monday mornings have I shared the elevator with a co-worker who, with shoulders drawn and eyes to the ground mumbles, "only four days to Friday!" My response is always, "Oh, please don't wish your life away." Sometimes I even say it out loud.
This is not a "Nyah, nyah" blog that celebrates the fact that I've left the elevator and the building. It's a reminder to myself and others that what makes for a rewarding life is getting as much pleasure from the 'work' we do as from other aspects of our being alive. Somebody said to me recently, "There's a reason they call it work, you know." Well, yes. It's polyanna-ish to think that every day in the office is going to be delightfully stress-free. But, personally, I'd say the same about grocery shopping.
For most of my career, Mondays have been a day to tick off the things to do and relish the challenges ahead, to remind myself of the goal, hone the strategies and gird the loins (so to speak). I love to work. I know that about myself. I love to think, create and resolve. I'm good at understanding the "why" of what I'm doing, and so the tasks themselves seem less burdensome. I've learned that half the battle is choosing the work that feeds me and then giving it my all. Many times, in fact, my work feels such a privilege and pleasure that it makes it hard to stop, weekend or no. I'm very lucky. I know that. But I also know that there are others like me. My own son, for example, a teacher who exhausts himself within the framework of too-large classrooms, too many rules and not enough resources, said to me the other night, "I can't believe they pay me to do this thing that I love." My heart burst. That's a good life.
I am twice lucky, now, to be able to focus my love of doing into pursuits that are not entirely based on remuneration. My options multiply. The world feels new. And though the distinction between Sundays and every other day of the week may someday recede, I hope the drive to be engaged in that which challenges and excites me never goes away. I wish this for everyone still riding the elevator, too.