I’ve been really busy lately, I’m building a house, so yep, busy. Brain progress is brilliant on door furniture (knobs), painting, cornice etc, but current events extend as far as, “Cement truck visits Bream Creek”. So Megoracle is failing in its function of late. Sorry for that. But when I’m done I’ll publish a list of tips for home builders. It’ll be a biggie.
Anyway, so in amongst the overwhelmed-ness I’ve been thinking about the business of business and how it’s evolved. I used to feel swamped by uni work and hours working as a barmaid but now I long for those days – relaxing in comparison, and heady with the arrogance of youth and all the time in the world. These days I feel rushed to cram stuff in because the middle age mark is here and the years pass by like Sir Jack Brabham (rest his soul). I shouldn’t even be sitting here writing – I should be painting. Everything’s on borrowed time. The school day is too bloody short but I need more time with my kids, bed time’s too early for all the stuff we have to do yet it can’t come soon enough. Arrrrrrgggghhhh! Overwhelmed. Due for a bit of whelmed.
I’m reading a novel* (which I have to do to put my brain to rest at night) set in poverty-stricken early 19th century Iceland. Shudder. It is based on a true story and the hardship within the pages has got me thinking (not very coherently I’m afraid, but thinking all the same).
Those Icelandic women really knew about busyness, proper busyness; they knew how to endure. We grumble about frost on the windscreen, they couldn’t set foot outside their mouldy crofts for large chunks of very long winters. I grizzle about the weeds in the garden, they harvested the hay with scythes. They likely scrubbed the stairs and beat the rugs and sewed their own clothes. I grumble if Country Road doesn’t have my size and I have to nip over to their other store.
The children in the book were expected to work; they walked miles to meet friends. Our children won’t pick up their towels and are amazed by the thought of a communal phone that is attached to the wall by a cord.
Of course, the woman of darkest Iceland didn’t have to endure school runs, clogged dishwasher filters or device-related tantrums. No one expected them to own their own home, have their careers on track, their roots done or their bikini lines sorted. So that explains their lack of complaint.
While we’re on bikini lines, here’s a thought – maybe us ‘modern women’ don’t have enough trauma in our lives, so we book a regular appointment that involves showing our nether regions to a stranger and having our pubic hair ripped out. Perhaps all those shiny pink vajayjays are our nod to the suffering of women past. Perhaps we could take the martyrdom further and make hair shirts out of our thwarted pubes.
Seriously, we’re soft aren’t we? We have it too good. Sometimes I feel panicky about the advance of technology – some of it for greater good but much of it for greater greed, laziness, anxiety, weakness and general dumbing down (I mean playing tennis with a telly screen – wtf?). Sometimes I feel as though the whole world is striving for convenience and ways to survive their busy lives. Convenience is a multi-multi-billion dollar industry. My gut tells me that this doesn’t say much for our priorities.
Other times I slip my Jamie Oliver pre-made meal into the oven (don’t get the meatball one, it’s shite), check the day’s headlines on the interwebs and thank the Lord for modern inventions (is the word modern outdated? I feel like I should be saying ‘current’ or ‘the latest’. Things move too quickly for anything to be modern).
Everything seems so complicated and rushed these days – despite automatic washing machines and microwaves and emails. Are the handy, speedy conveniences of today just making us cram more into our lives, inciting hurry? Whatever happened to wash days? Trips to the post office? “Whatever happened to that old dance we used to do?”
I feel nostalgic for drawn out tasks, family dish washing, toast on the fire, the wireless. And I wasn’t even born in wireless days. It’s all so irreversible though. Unless I turn into a hermit or an Aamish person, I just have to embrace progress. Well, give it a little hug at least. There are moments and days when switching off is good. Everything in moderation. Or until you have to check your facebook feed.
Last weekend we went wood-hooking like families might have done in Iceland in 1829 except with a chainsaw and fruit-boxes. I love a spot of wood hooking. Makes me feel self sufficient, plus there’s no phone signal and my husband is so strong and spunky when he’s felling large (dead) trees.
When we got home, on account for all the wood work and fresh air (and me needing kid free time due to newly spunky husband), I let the children watch Frozen, which is Iceland appropriate but will not help to strengthen any developing characters. It will, however, bring on more wobbly renditions of “Let It Go” (which actually I don’t mind, I sing it the wobbliest and loudest in the car, sometimes on my own). And there’s nothing like a good old family singalong.
There’s no real conclusion to this rant, it’s part of an ongoing conundrum, but in the spirit of the singalong, and the strange compulsion the ‘modern’ woman feels to get waxed when they could be ticking other less painful things off their to-do list (or indeed scything the hay) here is my version of Frozen’s Let it Go…(I didn’t mean for this post to go all singalong and below the belt but somehow, of course, it has, sorry Dad).
*The book, by the way, is called, “Burial Rites” by Hannah Kent. I haven’t finished it yet but can already recommend it.