To thine own self be true

I’m back at work in the library every other week. I overheat in the cloth mask I wear, especially when I’m also wearing plastic gloves, or so I think. I hadn’t realized how much further out of shape I had become over the quarantine months. Endless trips to the kitchen pantry, or opening and closing the refrigerator door, don’t really count as exercise. Moving the office upstairs may have helped a little, but not like my current walk to work or shelving work doing library inventory.

My wife’s also gone three days a week now. Our 14-year-old son hardly notices any change, keeping to his teen hours.

But the dog and cats appear extra-needy. “Look, we’re here. Been here all day. Where were you?” they seem to ask, loudly and insistently, when we each return. “We thought you were dead!”

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Getting back to my job, I’m beginning to feel a little dead. I miss the combination of hectic chaos and quiet self-discipline that allowed me to be productive over recent months, starting each day with a list of things to accomplish, beginning with a morning news broadcast I’d have to pre-record and load into our radio station’s automated log each morning.

I liked the way I could bounce between subjects. It reminded me of my work-from-home life for the first dozen years of Milo’s life. Many prefer work done studiously, one subject at a time. That’s never been my style. I want what I do each day to be entertaining. I want to go to bed each night with more questions than answers.

Many feel as I do. I hear it in work discussions. I see it in emails and online chats.

So now comes the hard work: reconstructing work lives better to fit how we want our lives to progress.

I’ve not adjusted to wearing masks and gloves. But I’m looking forward beyond this latest challenge with the conviction that the key to living is, as it always has been, within us.

Read more installments of Village Voices by Paul Smart.