I did what I was supposed to do. I got a full-time job. I don’t want to name names because I am embarrassed by my family and their issues, but you may recall that certain relatives gave me the message that I had no value as a human being because I didn’t have a job. So I got a job to placate them. I took the first available work, holiday help at a retail store. Pay: minimum wage, $7.25 an hour. I am now doing what probably millions of Americans are doing: The Hamster Wheel. I plan my life around my work schedule. I sleep as dictated by my shift, earlier or later depending on my start time.
It’s an unfulfilling life and I can’t even find time to write my blog. Last night, I fell asleep trying to write a short email! Everybody’s doing this, right? That’s how people live in America. The only difference between any Job A and any Job B is the salary. Hence, we have to find our fulfillment elsewhere. In truth, fulfillment is self-defined. I am very pleased with my retail job because it is a pleasant work environment and they agreed to give me Friday nights off for Shabbat. That is worth at least $3 an hour to me. In my defense, I am still adjusting to having split shifts. The company has me working at 8 am one day and 6 pm the next. A regular schedule makes a big difference. Anyhow, this is what The Family said they wanted for me: work, any work. Well, they’re not satisfied and neither am I. I feel numb and my stomach is upset. I want more in my daily life than a job and commuting to that job. I need better time management skills.
…only, it’s not about time management; it’s about spiritual rejuvenation. I need more energy.
Personally, I get re-energized from Shabbat. I prepare a festive meal, which is usually just a cheese sandwich and a relish tray of pickles and olives, but I sing. I read all the lovely prayers of my ancestors. I sing them and I make up melodies for the psalms. It reminds me that I am not alone, shooting through the galaxy on a big, dead rock; but rather, everything is beautiful and so am I. I think that a person could substitute yoga or line dancing or reiki meditation or hiking. There are infinite ways to get re-energized – but I have to eke out the time to make it happen.
Work has given me Friday night off, but I have wasted it. Recently, I have asked my family to turn off the television for two lousy minutes while I light my Shabbat candles under their scrutiny, but then I joined them in front of the tv for violent shows about murder. I am finding myself incapable of relaxing and I need to set a boundary. We are at odds, you see. The problem is my heart. (Codependent heart?) I feel torn apart because they are making me chose between spending time with them or spending time in Shabbat. They have been overly clear that they do not want any part of my special Shabbat observances. If I were someone else, I would say “Okay.” And take my party in my bedroom. But I’m not someone else. I’m me and I feel guilty taking my spiritual rejuvenation time alone when there are other people in the house who need it, too. If I go in my bedroom and do my own thing, they won’t feel welcome to sing with me and they will be excluded. Of course, they are already excluded because they opted out. Frankly, they think I am ridiculous and have no trouble telling me to my face.
Writing this post has helped me to make a resolution. Next Shabbat, I am going to set a loving boundary for myself. I am going to party in my bedroom and see if it gives me more energy to get through my week. I have to do it. I hate to exclude them, but they are dragging me down and I can’t realize my potential like this. I know there is more to life than The Hamster Wheel of eating, sleeping, and working. I need more energy.
“The Hamster Wheel.” is copyright © 2014 by 18mitzvot. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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