Monday, September 3, 2018

Labor Day: of Hurricanes and Alienation

This is not the first Labor Day where I've been keeping an eye on a storm.  In fact, last year I'd be up early on Labor Day Monday, in Memphis where we had gone to celebrate my father-in-law's 80th birthday; I'd have been keeping a wary eye on Hurricane Irma.

This year, I sit in a house that's undergoing repair construction because of Hurricane Irma.  I'm keeping my eye on the radar as Potential Tropical Cyclone 7 spins to my south.  I am not nearly as worried this year as I was last year.  I did take a look around the yard, just to make sure that we were in good shape, and I moved the drying swimsuits, towels, and table linens inside.

Each Labor Day, I am profoundly grateful that I am not in the Florida Keys in 1935, when the most intense hurricane to ever hit the U.S. came ashore.  Every time I drive through the Keys, I'm grateful that I'm there when hurricanes are not--those islands are so tiny.

I know that most people don't mark Labor Day as a hurricane anniversary.  I know that I should be raising a glass to those who fought so hard to make our working lives more tolerable.  I will raise a glass to those organizers:  I'm as fond of week-ends and OSHA regulations and 8-ish hour work days as the next person.

But I have some Marxist tendencies, and thus, I see that we still have much work to do.  I see many people who are alienated from their work, just like Marx warned us.  I know that in more and more industries people have less and less control of both their work and their schedules.  I know so many people who work not because they believe in their work, but because they need health insurance that's partially or wholly underwritten by employers.

And almost everyone I know fears that a future that is much worse barrels towards us.

I think about Marx and all the areas of work he missed.  These days, I feel alienated from my house, which requires an enormous amount of work.  I fight against that feeling of alienation in the arena of human relationships.

I'm in an unusual phase right now:  I'm deeply invested in my work for pay, but I feel a bit alienated from my creative work.  When I carve out time, the writing seems to come at a plodding pace.  I need a different camera.  The bag that holds my sketching materials seems to grow ever heavier.

Maybe I need a retreat--I'm thinking of signing up for this online one about visual journaling.  I say I'm thinking about it, but I bought the markers last night.  I like the subject matter of the retreat, and I'd like to experience an online retreat.  Plus, at a Create in Me retreat, I went to a workshop led by the artist that's leading the online retreat.

It's September, and the year has zoomed by.  Yet we still have 1/3 of the year remaining--we can still do some of the things we hoped to do when we made our plans in January.

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