15 December 2007

Burning daylight... and the joy of mindlessness

Well, after a week or so of beautiful balmy weather that made everyone scratch their head and wonder what season it is, we are finally getting back to a Georgia winter. Georgia winters are wet, cold, and grey. They would be considered autumn or early spring in most parts of the world.

We woke up this morning to grey overcast skies and the threat of rain. Though climbing out of bed was difficult, knowing that there were 16 bags of cement mix in the front yard was incentive enough to get out and get those moved (loaded into the trunk of the car no one drives). Those snugly stowed, the rain decided to start. Not to one miss the opportunity of an occasional downpour, I lined up the 2 x 6s that were the seats at Barbaritoes in a former life, and scrubbed them. They are now the floor of my loft. *yes, I have a loft now too.

The rain wasn't going to make me miss a day of vacation - so I got a bunch of screws, put on my snazzy tool belt and got to work. The loft is about 8 feet up under the sloping roof. It will have windows on 3 sides, and I can now confirm, it will be ideal for the occasional nap.

I spent the grey drizzly afternoon with dropping temperatures enjoying being very zen with the power drill. I decided to screw in the wood instead of hammering it in. I didn't want any stray nails sticking out beneath, and wanted to be able to remove a board if possible. It sort of goes against my quest for green building, but my rationalization is that the use of screws will enable the structure to last much longer. And it was quieter. With my iPod on, the whirrrr of the drill, was the perfect compliment to the drilling of the rain on the tin roof.

We are getting close to the shortest day of the year. And at 6:00 it's too dark to see outside. But working outside sets a nice rhythm to the day.

The more time I spend working on this project the more I appreciate the tempo of the day. I'm more aware of when the birds are active, when neighbors are out for walks, when the cool wind blows as the sun sets, and when the last light of day fades away.

So much of my life, my *real* life is spent staring at a computer, and under electric lights, I forget what the ebb and flow of a day feels like.

Not having tight deadlines, or the endless glare of the laptop releases my mind and I wander. I don't find myself trying to concentrate, or feeling like I have to pull my thinking back to something. It's as if in the physical labor my brain is set free to relax and go where it wants. It's a delightful feeling. I know what I'm doing and I just keep doing it until the task is done. I think I'm remembering what it feels like to be mindless for the first time in ages.

As a graduate student, I would be so exhausted after the term ended, I'd read junk and watch TV, and still feel the pressure of life, knowing there'd be another set of hoops to jump through in few weeks. Then there was the dissertation which was rife with "ought to's, must do's and whose who's", the work as an assistant professor was plagued with demands on my time I quickly grew to resent, and the world of an independent consultant is one of forever pushing to deliver the best possible project in time, and forever scoping for more work.

I feel like I haven't stopped in ages. In a lifetime. In my son's life time.

I don't know that I'm "stopping" now. After all, I'm in the middle of a huge building project that's got a mighty steep learning curve.

But after today, I can honestly say, I like this kind of vacation more than any other kind I've had. Because it just feels so good.

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