Not stressed, not busy, rather engaged
Augie was part of the Piper funeral planning crew. We decided to have the funeral just two days after she died, which made everything about this event a rush job. Augie is also one of the people who does lice checks with our fancy new sci-fi goggles that provide both light and magnification to make this job easier and more precise.
I had been checked for lice three times before and had not had any. The community was going through one of its occasional bouts with parasites. One of the down sides of collective life, certainly. I asked Augie to check me one more time, now that the outbreak seemed basically past. During the midst of Augie’s check of me, his cell phone rang about the Piper funeral preparation and he felt like he had to take it. He was apologetic about the interruption. When he returned to checking my hair he said,
“This is what is it like to be you everyday isn’t it?”
Some false modest part of me was about to deny it, but then i realized that i had been up since 4 AM going basically full blast the entire time (it was then after 4 in the afternoon) and i confessed that it was.
“I don’t want this job all the time, you can have it.”
Augie responded partly in jest, but at its core the comment was serious. We agreed that for acute situations, Augie (and many other communards) would take on special assignments like this, which were demanding and also taxing. But few of us want to be on call this way.
When i worked in the mainstream my jobs were generally troubleshooter jobs. I loved this type of work: Lots of things to balance, different all the time, complex problem solving, pressing deadlines. While i did not think about it that much at the time, i was not excited about having bosses (despite having some pretty good ones) or supporting corporations which were destroying the world to profit shareholders.
What i have taken on here on the communes is troubleshooter (which i call organizer) jobs without the bosses and shareholders, which seems a good fit for my temperament. Perhaps more importantly, it represents a different type of experience for type A personalities.
If stress is the negative psychological affect of being under pressure, then (especially if compared to the mainstream) my work is largely stress-free. I have nearly dropped “i am stressed” from my vocabulary, because it is not really true.
Similarly, i am working on dropping “i am busy” from my responses to people about how i am doing, or my check-ins. This common phrase is used (in my opinion) to engender all manner of manipulated responses from the person hearing it. You are perhaps supposed to be sympathetic that this person is so busy running around making (perhaps important) things happen. Perhaps you should be impressed that they have it together and are so important that they need to be running around all the time. Perhaps you should feel guilty, because they are very busy making good things happen and you are not. Perhaps you should be envious because their life is exciting and complex and yours is perhaps not.
I dont want any of these responses.
So i am changing my language. When someone says “how are you?” i have been trying on “i am engaged.” These are projects i want to be doing and have volunteered for every one of them. I am not looking for sympathy or guilt responses. And if you are envious, be so because i am doing what i love, rather than i am ticking off tasks or satisfying some boss.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]