Discombobulated, Lost in Time

October 21, 2013

“How lost do you have to be to forget which day it is?”
— Judith Shulevitz, The Sabbath World

Disappearing into the distance, into the fog.  Skagit Valley in October.

Disappearing into the distance, into the fog. Skagit Valley in October.

The other day as my husband walked out the door to start his day, I reminded him that we would not have a DVD movie to watch that evening.  But instead he could watch Monday night football.  He gave me a quizzical look and said, “It’s not Monday.  It’s Saturday.”

Oh, my.

This is the life I grapple with.  My library job, like so many in the retail and service sectors, is a seven-day-a-week affair.  That means I work every other weekend and have my days off sprinkled across a work schedule that repeats every 14 days. It’s an irregular, fragmented life, and I just can’t seem to get into a smooth rhythm.

Is it any wonder that I’m feeling discombobulated?  I can see this is truly not just my own private issue, but a public one.  “Shift work, it is now clear, disrupts circadian rhythms, fosters insomnia, and induces inattentiveness, memory loss, and depression, especially when the shifts are irregular.”  (Judith Shulevitz, The Sabbath World)

One of the biggest challenges presented by my personal time patterns is sustaining any momentum with my painting.  I am doing a pretty good job making painting a top priority on my days off work, but those days occur so irregularly.  It’s frustrating, but I do the best I can for now.

“The abnormal effort necessary to produce a true piece of work is not an effort that can be diverted or divided.”
– Jeanette Winterson, Art [Objects]:  Essays in Ecstasy and Effrontery

“. . . haste is the enemy of art.  Art, in its making and in its enjoying, demands long tracts of time.” (ibid.)

“With a moment snatched here and there, it’s hard to achieve that feeling of being in the swing of something, the self-forgetfulness that psychologists call flow.”
— Judith Shulevitz, The Sabbath World

I know I am in good company with my struggles.  Mason Curry’s book, Daily Rituals:  How Artists Work explores how artists make time each day to be creative and how some earn a living while making art.  One of the blogs I follow, Gwarlingo, posted an excellent review of this book here.  It’s worth a look.

9 Responses to “Discombobulated, Lost in Time”

  1. camilla wells paynter Says:

    This is so true! The way our lives are structured around long hours of “work” goes a long way toward stifling the flow of creative process, particularly for those of us who are struggling to reclaim our creative side after decades of ignoring it in order to fit into that structure around jobs. It’s not just something we have to “be better about.” It’s a fight, a fight for something dear to us and deeply meaningful, though this meaning is rarely recognized in society.

    I am fortunate to not be working full time right now, and even so, it’s a struggle. I love to paint in the morning, but there isn’t the block of time, so this is one of my compromises. I am currently working on a series of 6″ x 6″ panels, a size that allows me to complete a work in one sitting, in the evening. Another way I am working around the time constraints. So I find my ways, and I’m sure you find yours and will find them, but I wholly relate to your difficulty with time and the need for “flow.”

  2. Judy Says:

    I don’t work and I still forget what day it is! Of course, that could be contributed to by an aging brain!!!

  3. Elisa Says:

    I’ll have to consider what you said. My thoughts, while reading were wanting to question you about finding quotes that affirmed, fixated, and made firm the need for ‘the time’. “The time”, while being literal, might also be this aggrandized idea of what you think you need. The quotes and the reading seem to back that idea up–which wouldn’t be very good, if what you really need is something different. I only get to see the finished bits. I do not get to see the 20 times you had ideas and wishes and five minutes before you left for work, in order to try to do them–or worry over losing the idea. I’m for doing what the mood says, when it says it. I wonder then also if you have so many delightful wishes, that you are often feeling as if you have to give something up. I think about some of these things on quiet days, myself.

    • Rosemary Says:

      I think I see what you are saying. I’ve got a rather intense personality and have never felt too comfortable just following my moods. Perhaps I’m missing out on something important.

  4. shoreacres Says:

    Count yourself lucky. You have a schedule, however fragmented it may be. I work when the weather allows, and I have no idea when I get up in the morning what time I’ll be able to begin, how long I’ll be able to work or what time I’ll quit. If it rains in the middle of the day, I have to stop working. If it rains for three days, I’m not working. If it’s gorgeous for a week, I work all day, every day.

    One of the things I’ve had to learn is flexibility, and the ability to switch gears fast. Also, focus. It’s easy to be pulled in several directions at once, even while sitting at a computer.

    On the acorn front – I’m in Council Grove, Kansas, and the bur oak crop is phenomenal! How many pounds of acorns did you say you’d like?

    • Rosemary Says:

      Oh, we’re talking pounds, are we? I was thinking just one or three or five — acorns, not pounds! It sounds like you timed your visit perfectly.

      You have a challenging schedule, that’s for sure. But you no doubt have realized that as an artist, writer and blogger, that you are always working on your creations, even as your rational mind and hands are occupied with other things. I can’t do this quite so much, and not at all when I am on the desk helping patrons and conversing with them. But everything — work, weather, people — is food for future creations. I know I’m fortunate to have the job I do, and shouldn’t complain!

      • shoreacres Says:

        You know, I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about that – your need for brushes, paints, and so on. You’re right that I do a lot of thinking while working,which would be impossible if I were involved with people or the requirements of a normal (!) business. The closest analogy I can think of is my inability to do research during work hours. More times than you can imagine I think to myself, “I wonder if…” or “When did…?” and have to wait until I can carve out the time you sit at the computer.

        Also – you don’t sound at all as though you’re complaining. You’re just doing what we all do – trying to find a way to fit all the pieces of a life together.

  5. Diana Studer Says:

    I hear you, I’ve worked Saturdays in the library. But oh how wonderful for your readers to have access to books etc every day!

    • Rosemary Says:

      Yes, we are busy on Saturdays and Sundays, and our readers do appreciate having access on the weekends. I know we provide an important service. That’s a huge part of why my job is satisfying.

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