EXHAUSTION IS A PRIVILEGE: ON WORK
yesterday at the end of my hot yoga class I was lying on my mat listening to this gorgeous flute solo and there was a cool aromatherapy cloth on my forehead and I had worked my body very hard in class after having worked my mind very hard all day and I thought the best part of doing so much work is to have the privilege to spend ten minutes lying on a mat feeling like lavender and totally exhausted.
when I was a teenage girl I was very physically strong from riding horses, and I hated it; because it required the carrying in of heavy groceries and resulted in what I called “gorilla arms” and it was awful, but I loved being good at riding horses so I would ride them for many hours every day and carry heavy things and set ridiculous mileage goals for my rowing-machine workouts. it is really annoying to have a body.
but it is also really awesome. when it’s impossible to work and sometimes it is impossible to work a body exertion seems impossible, and you sink, and the thing you sink into is a kind of poverty in that you are exiled from an entire economy, and that is awful. there are a few nice things about being in exile but primarily it is designed to be awful. but it is lovely to have a body when it is a privilege to use it, to have the time to use it, and a space and an activity and the means. it is not like this for everybody in the world and for some people the concept would seem absurd I’m sure but this is what it is like in my life, as a writer, which involves a lot of being still in order to write.
there are other professions even in america in which one can and sometimes must be a body but I am not right now in one of them. even getting your body to a building etc. I think a lot about america I mean I think a lot about governing structures and humanity and what is noble and I think you have to love work. I mean love it. when I was a teenage girl I loved the work of loving america. I was strong and I wanted to work.
today I finished reading the hunger games. it was raining outside and gray but you could tell the sun was still there somewhere and the grass was very green and the wooden rocking bench on my back porch was rocking in the wind like a prairie. in the hunger games there are governing structures and humans, one of whom is a physically strong teenage girl who loves and wants to work. she lives in a world where this is the only way to live, to work, to love it. to be aware of the privilege of having a body that can be exhausted.
I do not really believe in coincidence and I do not think it is a coincidence that america is in love with the hunger games with its working girl and I have read this book in a cave like a dropped present and am leaving to work in the world. in new orleans I had my cards read by a wise woman who said it is time for me to start my work now and I have been feeling like this for a while.