We Deserve to Live Well

As I write this, a wriggling 8 month old is trying to see how far my bottom lip stretches. The 3yo has a cape on. My son is shooting nerf arrows onto the roof. I see no reason to interfere.

In this time of global crisis, the school-aged children are home for the foreseeable future.  They’ve turned to me, I who am disheveled, pajamaed and anxious, to run their school day. Ha! This is what streaming content is for. Don’t want to do your math today? Fine.

Productivity. I define myself in terms of my creative output. Being an artist and a writer is like being a sponge: I am either wrung out or brimming. I can’t expect my children to work diligently if I myself cannot even muster the will to plan a project.

I’ve realized that I need to think differently. What is productivity, right now? Closures of schools and workplaces, cancellations of events: it all feels dark and very scary. But, what is happening is a collective social sacrifice. Solidarity. We are coming together in our isolation from one another, oddly, in order to give our medical workers and institutions a fighting chance. We are saving the lives of our fellow citizens.

That is worth doing.

Why does that feel strange? I don’t think we like working, but we’re afraid not to. Capitalism is not amenable to a collective slowdown. I make money for no one when I decide to bake bread and paint or read a story to my children. Previously I’ve had to decide whether or not I deserved those activities. Did I get enough done in any given day to justify slowing down at the end of it?

What I hope we all realize is this: we’ve always deserved to rest, to eat well, and to enrich ourselves with the development of domestic skills. We are owed this, to be treated with dignity and to live well. Currently the necessities of life are acquired through wage slavery: I cannot eat, live, or receive medical care unless I work. If I cannot work, I suffer. Is it foolish to wonder if this crisis will force us to re-imagine the way we live?

I will continue to let my children play whenever they want. The guilt I feel has been planted there by the greed of a collapsing system, and I will instead try to live in a way that upends it.

Seneca on the Friendship of Kindred Minds

seneca

Seneca, British Museum – By Marie-Lan Ngyen (2011) Public domain

“When I urge you so strongly to your studies, it is my own interest which I am consulting; I want your friendship, and it cannot fall to my lot unless you proceed, as you have begun, with the task of developing yourself. For now, although you love me, you are not yet my friend. “But,” you reply, “are these words of different meaning?” Nay, more, they are totally unlike in meaning. A friend loves you of course; but one who loves you is not in every case your friend. Friendship, accordingly, is always helpful, but love sometimes even does harm. Try to perfect yourself, if for no other reason, in order that you learn how to love.”

 

-Epistle XXXV, Seneca

Mulling this over with my morning coffee. It packs a punch, as it makes me consider my parenting style (my kids are all under 5) and my relationship with them as they grow. It also makes me consider the difference between acquaintances and friends, and how we view family members.

 

No More Nonfiction Writing For Me

 

This guy is my biggest fan

This guy is my biggest fan

Getting published and read by a large audience for the first time can be exhilarating. It can also show you what kind of author you don’t want to be.

Let’s say you write nonfiction and it’s about a serious topic that you have researched and can contribute to. And you put a lot of work into in and it gets out there and suddenly thousands of people share it and your inbox and social media explode in a cacophony of condemnation and praise alike.

It’s amazing what people will read into your work even though you thought you were being clear; it just goes to show you that people don’t want to read most things and take them at their own merit, they want to force all opinions into their own acceptable narrative.

I LOVE YOUR OPINION YOU ARE JUST LIKE ME SUBSCRIBE TO MY NEWSLETTER AND JOIN MY CLUB.

Um, see you later Captain Howdy.

YOU ARE TERRIBLE AND YOU MUST HATE ME SO SCREW YOU.

Hi, nice to meet you.

That’s not even the worst part. The worst part is seeing the reactions of writers and bloggers and people you respect highly misinterpret your motives.

That sucks.

 

I imagine that Thomas Moore loved writing Utopia:  it was a way for him to explore what he thought by showing people what certain political structures looked like. He didn’t keep his head in the end but I don’t think it was because of that particular work.

I like writing. I’d like to do it professionally, but I’ve decided to actively pursue fiction. That means freelancing for a while, and maybe never getting anything published, but I’m good at getting rejections.

Here I come, world.