Your ‘real work’ begins after busy work ends

Here we are, in a brand-new year. A fresh start. We’re none of us going to make the same mistakes over again, are we?
Who are we kidding? Our resolutions, from before the ball dropped at midnight last weekend — have you broken some of yours already? I have. I always do, because they’re always the same: Eat more healthily. Exercise more. Be kinder/nicer to everyone, and don’t get into any more fights with (you know who — we each have our own “you-know-who,” don’t we?).
I briefly remembered the warning given when I moved from elementary to high school: Everyone gets a clean slate, and then everybody scribbles on it. Still, once again, I wrote down my resolution list and went to hang it on the side of the refrigerator (not on the front; I never wanted these things staring me in the face every day). And when I did, I found last year’s list still there — untouched, unread. Guess what? I didn’t have to write a new list at all! Everything for 2018 was exactly the same as for 2017. I didn’t even bother to replace the paper; I just changed the date (with a big sigh, wishing that I hadn’t written it last year in ink).
Well, I hadn’t really forgotten about it altogether, because its main item is the most important one: “Do the piddly little things quickly, in order to get on with the bigger, more important things.” In other words: Finish up the dishes and wiping the sink in order to move on to my “real work.” Stop spending so much time with newspapers and magazines, and concentrate on “more valuable” reading. Do some “more valuable” writing than what is assigned to me, or what I volunteer for because I want to educate, or support causes. What would “more valuable” reading be for me? And what would be “more valuable” writing? I guess I’ve been entertaining a vague idea that, somewhere — ‘way off over the rainbow with Judy Garland — my “real work” awaits.
By now, I should have learned that I’ll never get to that “real work” — whatever I may think at any moment that it might be. So I’ve decided to resolve that in this New Year, I will finally stop pretending, and recognize what my real work really is…
My “real work” as a child was going to school. That continued through college and my first graduate education, after which my “real work” — in accordance with the dictates of that time — entailed getting married, keeping house, having children, and watching those children grow up (which defined their “real work” as well as mine). I always suspected that, in adulthood, my “real work” would be writing of some kind, but I could never see myself beginning, let alone completing, anything of any sustained length — too many interruptions by the demands of that ever-present “real world.”
But now, I think I really understand, thanks to the brilliant gift a good friend has given me: a little phrase I’ve adopted as my newest byword. It finally explains to me how my “real work” is my “real world” work: a compilation of all the little things I do every day. These are not interruptions; they are what together weave the overall fabric of my existence. And those magic words of understanding are incredibly simple: “Life Is a Sequence of Moments Called NOW.”
So NOW, I’m changing my new year’s thinking. I’m taking that bit of paper with its broken resolutions down from the side of the refrigerator and, instead, posting my new motto on its front, so I will have to see it every day of my life. Because “real work” comes in many forms, and I finally recognize that I’ve already been doing it — every day of my life.
May all of us have good health and success with our “real work,” whatever that may be, throughout a Happy New Year!

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