Friday, August 1, 2014

The Way It Is

The rejection letter was mixed in with a bunch of bills. The form letter was nice enough and asserted that, even though my submission "did not fit the needs" of the journal at this time, the rejection was "not a reflection of the quality of the writing."

Yeah. Right.

Some pieces are published. More are not. That's the just the way it is.

Some people live with more than they can use. Others have less than they need. Still others have nothing. or less than nothing, and are in deep debt. Most of us have our incomes steadily delcine for the past 30 or so years while the wealth at the top continues to concentrate. The grabby, scared, greedy plutocrats just want more, always more.

Some love a hopeless love that is not returned. Some are loved but can't love back. Passions don't always come with talent. Talent sometimes gets crumbled and tossed into the ditch.

That's just the way it is.

I drop the letter into the 13 gallon file and tie on my tool belt. I have things to do, tasks that need to be done before I head back to another year of teaching back in Tucson. Today I have some sills to craft. Boards will be measured, cut to length, notched, sanded, painted with sealer and then with Urethane before being installed.

It's a slow process, one that I want to hurry through. I want to skip steps and just get the sills installed so I can be done and take a break.

Yet, I know if I take that path, the time will be wasted and the wood ruined and stained from joint compound.

There is the easy way and the right way.

One of the humans I respect says that his "meditation" is critical thinking followed by action. Yes, action. But action that comes from a blend of mind and heart, usefulness and passion. 

I see that I can keep at it and do it well, or I can hurry up, cut corners, give in to laziness, sloppiness, fear, or stubbornness, or whatever it is. But to do it well, I have to put my mind to it, to engage with the work. I also need to put my heart into it, to love the moment and the simple pleasure of this task, of all tasks, and be mindful, as they say.

If I take that path and let the work be an expression of my presence, I will produce a solid, beautiful, finished sill, or poem, or painting, or thoughtful conference with a student. If I don't, I get more work trying to fix what I did not do right in the first place.

Just the way it is.

The laws of life don't change no matter how much I want them to be different. I want editors to publish my work, but they don't. I want my days to be free from work, but they are not. I want people to be fair and generous and aware of their connections to others. I want to know that my welfare is the welfare of my neighbors. I also want to brood and to be left alone, but I have taken on the challenge of stepping past what is easy and familiar.

I have committed to help others realize dreams and to make my living teaching.

No matter how much I try or complain I am not exempt from the way it is.

I get what I get and do with it what I am able and willing to do.

Them's just the facts.

I decide to slow down with this moment and take the work one step at a time. I mark the boards precisely and cut them on the line. I apply the sealer with slow, even strokes, with a thin coat that does not blister or bubble. I let it dry. Then I add the Urethane. I take it all slow and easy. The board goes in, snug and tight as a duck's butt as they say. It looks nice and will pay me dividends over the years every time I look at it.

I know that working like this is a luxury granted only to those lucky enough to be working alone, free from the pace of corporate production. The world wants more and more junk, even if that means less and less quality.

Short term gains to cover the loss of not being seen the way we want to be seen don't change the way it is.

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