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Indolence, Meet Sacrifice


Have I mentioned that I'm lazy? It's true, and I find it helps to own it. I've spent a lifetime thinking it's just a phase. That has not come to pass—it's clear I have an aversion to work.

And I'm not just talking about jobs kind of work. I'm talking about all kinds of work, whether it's doing a friend a favor or a phuckin' verbal math problem, I'm disinclined to participate.

As you might imagine, my beliefs around work run contrary to just about every culture on the map. Work has value. Oh yeah, leisure has value, too. I'm on record that I think programming play out of our experience of life is a fundamental—and fatal—flaw for the maturation process. We're built for pleasure. Often, people sacrifice their plans for play in the interest of work, driven by needs to provide for others or rewards associated with a strong work ethic. And when I say work ethic, I mean the desire for money.

Understand—I'm just as lazy about play as I am about work.

I'm not willing to make the sacrifice of my free time and energy. Doesn't matter what the requirement is. I disposition all action by assuming my position on the couch, virtual or otherwise.

I'll tell ya one thing: my laziness is not a matter of heredity. It's true, my apple didn't fall far from mom's tree—but my mom worked more than any human being I've ever encountered. For real, she would take care of us kids, work her job at the newspaper, which more often than not required longer days. Then she'd come home and work on her moonlighting, my mom, ahead of the Gig Economy by fifty years. After working on the side gig, she'd spend time on the novel she was writing. The sound of the typewriter filled our little house, I got so used to it, some nights I'd beg mom to keep typing until I could fall asleep.

Here's the thing: all that work my mom did, she did for us, her kids. She provided for us in grand fashion! I mean, take the kids to Goldwater's for new clothes. Paying for countless lessons, as well as a great deal of recreation, always taking us and our friends to movies. (Mom took us to all the events that she did publicity for, which frequently meant free tickets to things like The Ice Capades, Ringling Brothers Circus, rock concerts.)

And always, always, she put us kids' needs, and most of our wants, ahead of her own.

I think my mom knew the meaning of sacrifice.

Me? Not so much.


Until now.

Now, I see the future comin', I realize there are going to be situations where I have a decision to make. Do I take the lazy route, duck out of the circumstance, cement my position on the couch. Or…do I have enough empathy, enough compassion, to make a sacrifice. Where someone else's needs outweigh my own.

I could call many behaviors 'self-preservation' but the truth is my actions speak louder than words. Till now, that meant takin' the easy way out.

The other day, when I woke up, I had a very specific memory. That's the way my subconscious works with me. If there's something important that I haven't gleaned. That I missed on recording. There will be a memory, prominent in my mind right when I wake up. Something for me to circle back on, perhaps a key component of something that had, up till then, mystified me.

And the other day, the memory was of mom and me, in her apartment at Brookdale, an assisted living residence. We'd had a particularly rough day, me as yet unadapted to the new mom, and thus given to sudden outbursts of frustration, even anger. I felt bad about my behavior, was trying to apologize, and mom said something that didn't necessarily register when she said it to me.

She said: I'm going through this so you don't have to.

Now, right now, as I type the sentence…I can feel the tears pushin' up against my eyeballs.

Sacrifice. She's been sacrificing, for me, for decades. That's why the memory popped overnight. There was a lesson in it, one I hadn't caught when mom said it. Now, here it is, presenting itself at a point in time…where people are going to have to make sacrifices. I think about all the people still working, especially the front liners, the sacrifices they're making. I mean, it's Covid 19. The sacrifice we're talking about is of life! It could come down to that, for a significant number of people, including the staff at grocery stores and pharmacies, the truckers, all those who have carried the rest of us on their shoulders.

I would like to think that we are going through the pain of the coronavirus, and our governments complete mishandling of the response, so that the generations that follow won't have to go through what we will. Right? Dr. Fauci, a voice crying in the wilderness, said as much in a TV interview. He'd like to think it's possible we learn from this experience, that we institutionalize it, so we're prepared.

Hmm. That's an idea I could get up off the couch for.

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