Thursday, January 17, 2008

Max Weber get off my couch!

The more I see the less I know the more I like to let it go…
-Red Hot Chili Peppers

I am in one of those moments, one of those phases in time where it seems as though time itself disappears before my eyes. I feel like I get up and by the time I finish the essentials, my day is gone and I am left wondering where it went. I feel like I am on this treadmill and it is on an increasing incline but I have to keep up the same pace. I know that I am not unique in this feeling, that I am one of many. Very many. And I also do not think that it is purely because I am now a mother although trying to accomplish things with a baby hanging onto your knees is a challenge, to say the least. I have felt this way before when working full time, and before when going to school full time and working. I have always imagined the next stage of my life would be easier and more relaxed and it has not proved itself as true. I think that the more you try to do, the less you actually do. It’s like the harder you try, the harder it is? And the older I get, the more I realize how much life likes to work in these strange Zen Koans. I am beginning to think that life is trying to teach me a lesson that I refuse to learn: to relax!

I don’t know why it is, although I have some ideas. There is the Protestant Work ethic, of course, that used religion to promote productivity. This work ethic has created an underlying group mentality that urges Americans to do more and more and have more and more. The Protestant Work Ethic said the way we would be judged for heaven would be by our possessions, by what we had accumulated through our lifetime by our hard work. And now we’ve just exchanged the ideal of heaven with keeping up with the Jones’.

Other countries don’t believe in work the way we do. I appreciate those countries, and would love to be like them but I can’t help that I have this protestant work ethic mind set deeply embedded in my consciousness whether I like it or not. I want to get things done so that I can prove I am worthwhile, so that I will be loved and appreciated. But do you know what? I am the luckiest woman in the world because tonight I was snuggled under a blanket watching mindless television. I remarked to my husband how I was so frustrated with myself, there I was with all these things to do and I wasn’t even relaxing with a good book (so I could later check “read good book this week” off my secret list) all I was doing was watching mindless television which did me absolutely no good at all. He looked at me in his quiet way and said “I like to see you doing absolutely nothing especially when it’s mindless because it is relaxing and you SHOULD relax.” Hmmmm. I think that’s unconditional love at its finest. I would like to see me relax, too. Sometimes you have to not do anything in order to get anything done! That said, I think I’m going to get back to my Rachel Ray!


Jan said...

I've always thought of it as the Judeo-Christian work ethic. Could be worse. It's what our country was founded on, and so far it works. But, there's nothing wrong with jellin' out, spacing out, or relaxing once in awhile.

Domestically Challenged said...

I have a wise Mother in Law, she told me - forget about the housework (the children won't remember how clean the house was) - just play with the children.
I'm quite happy to admit she's usually right!
Like you I thought I had to do everything, I had two small children who didn't sleep, I was sleep deprived and felt like I was failing!
Probably too late, I took her advice - it was a revelation - now my best friend and I joke about who has the biggest cobwebs!
The house will still be there when the children are at school, and you have a little more time. My dear Mother in law also said "they grow up fast - make the most of it". I thought this was a cliche - but she was right again!
Have a latte and put your feet up!

Life As I Know It said...

Have you read Eat, Pray, Love? She talks about how, while in Italy, she experienced a very different work ethic and way of life, and realized that Americans tend to feel guilt if they aren't "productive enough" during the day. While the Italians are content to just "be". To enjoy life!
I would love to change my mind set too, but it's hard to change habits.

Jo said...

Dear DC: Thank you so much! I had very much taken the mindset of do it all and look pretty doing it and honestly I am tired and sick of it and missing out on Babou growing up while I am washing the floor. Not that I want to let everything go dirty, but I think there is a balance and I am searching for it. Right now the pendulum has swung very far in the OTHER direction nad I find I can't get anything done. Where's that Latte!

Jo said...

Dear Life as know it:
I havn't read that yet but am going to try to find it at the library this weekend. It sounds like the perfect read. I am going to go visit my parents for the weekend and they don't watch television so perfect timing! Will let you know when I finish it. Habits are hard to break, I know. I am trying to break my snacking nervously habit right now. Not going so well!

Jo said...

Dear Jan:
I definitly appreciate our strong work ethic but I think sometimes there may be too much emphasis placed on work instead of enjoyment of your labors. I was referring to the Max Weber's book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, but maybe it is now also called the Judeo-Christian work ethic? I don't know but it is very interesting stuff.

Anonymous said...

I think our society in particular places too much emphasis on doing, doing, doing. Think about our eating habits, for example. We consume fast food like crazy people, everything as quick as possible. Whereas a slow, relaxing meal can be so appealing - savoring every bite, really concentrating on what one is eating. If we did this in our culture, we'd probably pass on a lot of what we are mindlessly throwing into our mouths.

It seems like if you really think about what you are doing in the moment, you will become slower and more aware of your actions. I was down doing laundry (!) today, and I started to concentrate on my hands. And I found myself just being in that moment of doing the laundry, and suddenly I was relaxed and meditative - in that moment. Maybe this is the key to a slower, more relaxed state of mind.

Maybe it doesn't matter what you do - it's more like how you do it.

smileymamaT said...

I agree with what your hubby said. I too feel like, holey cow, that day just went by like a blink and all I remember is a flash of "go-to-work-laundry-supper-bathtime-zonked out".
So yes, we need to have times where we do nothing at tall, it recharges the mental batteries and peace of mind!

Melissa said...

Funny. I've been feeling this way too. I'm suffocating underneath my possessions, ambitions and commitments and have migrated more and more to a simpler, less complicated way (more European?)
I found you via Domestically Challenged and I'm so glad I did!

AuthorMomWithDogs said...

You married a good man. The thing that helped me let go was having a baby, two puppies, and a new business all at the same time. I finally cried uncle, and haven't looked back. Now things get done when I get to them. Thankfully, I also have a husband who understands.

JCK said...

Having a husband who likes to see you chill, can't be overrated. I think you are on to something here. Finding the balance is a challenge, but we keep trying.

sophia katrina said...

This is true about.. but not so much as one might think sometimes, I maintain. Chaka ALWAYS talks about how life in africa is so great.. working is not so important and you Relax and Enjoy Life... I still think he correlates African life with Life As A Child... since that is when he lived there. He didn't work. But SOMEONE did... and someone worried about bills and housing and food. Maybe not a Lot... but more than He did!