Run Ragged

Well done, you’ve made it – it’s Friday. How has your week been? I hope you are not feeling too weary, that you’ve not been run ragged with the ravages of your job. If you work at a university, you might have been striking yesterday, or sneaking in through the back door for fear of putting the diffident Social Anthropology picket line professor in an awkward position. If you’re a teacher maybe it was your first full week back after the mid-term break, or maybe you took a few days off last week to spend with the kids. It could be you’ve not had a break since Christmas and you’re thinking – “Mid-term break, oh the luxury!” A few of my friends were in touch this week with stories of workplace politics; they’ve had a tough week and will be glad to see the back of it after five days of keeping their head down and powering through. Blessed are those weeks when you feel you can take on the world, when challenges fall like skittles, and you chomp through your to-do list like an industrious beavers in an aspen grove. Life feels carefree at such times. Remember these weeks, note them down, bottle them, and draw from that bottle when you hit on the work equivalent of black ice; when you get to Friday and find yourself in a lake of lethargy, a puddle of pessimism, a stream of sluggishness. There will always be the occasional week when you think: ‘Is this it? Is this what life’s all about?’ Picking your way through from maudlin Monday to frazzled Friday with only the promise of a gargle of gin and tonic at the end of the week to keep you going. I hope you never trail through the door on a Friday evening with the unwelcome appraisal someone once bestowed upon me, “you look like you were shot at and missed.” Unkind. Mrs. Mc. was my Primary Two teacher (when I was 6 years old), every Friday she would make an addendum to our class prayers. “It’s Friday, children, so remember ….” and we would all finish the end of her sentence in sing-song tones, “Thank you God for Friday.” I always thought this was a genuine prayer, and only 40 years later do I realise that it was a heartfelt appreciation for her reaching the weekend intact.

But it isn’t always this way, not at all. I am highlighting the crazily tough weeks, the ones when I used to congratulate myself for even getting to the workplace, when I would tell I myself: “80% of work is just about turning up” (how low was my bar?) These are the times when you need some humour to get you through, a little perspective. For example, how about turning this whole life business, and the 40 odd years of work we jam into it, on its head? You might think it’s a mad world but here is an upside down approach, a touch of tongue in cheek to make you smile.

‘Reverse Living’ by Norman Glass

“Life is tough.

It takes up a lot of your time. All your weekends.

And what do you get at the end of it –

Death – A great reward.

I think that the life cycle is all backwards.

You should die first. Get it out of the way.

Then you live 20 years in an old folks home.

You get kicked out when you’re too young.

You get a good watch. You go to work.

You work for 40 years until you are young enough to enter college.

You learn to party until you are ready for High School.

You go to High School, Grade School,

You become a little kid.

You play, you have no responsibilities.

You become a little baby.

You go back into the womb.

You spend the last nine months floating

Only to finish off as a gleam in somebody’s eye.”

I’ll stick with living life in the only order I can, and I’ll try to enjoy every day of the week as much as I relish the weekends. In the meantime, with a nod to Mrs. Mc., thank you God for Friday.


2 thoughts on “Run Ragged

  1. TGIF. Letters often spoken in my working life. I had a chuckle at the poem, but if we have to do life that way, could we please stop at a time when we learned to be sensible and stay there? I don’t like the idea of returning to the time when I was a gleam in someone’s eye.


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