Thursday, September 15, 2011

The End of Summer

The days are still hot and sunny.. The lakes are cool, attractive and inviting, like Greta Garbo or a Long Island Iced Tea. I have many things still to read, and many ideas that are waiting to be put into words. There are many paths I still haven’t taken and the rucksack is not yet a burden. But clients have been calling for days, work is arriving, and some of it cannot be done in my rural fastness. My presence in the city is required. It is time to return. The character in The Lotus Eaters who ends up living in a ruined shed and begging scraps of food says at one point that the purpose of work is to obtain leisure. You would have thought it would be so, but to many people it appears that their work is an important part of their identity., or an excuse to get away from their family, or something they feel better at doing than other aspects of life, or a way of passing the time. Well, that’s up to each one to decide. Since most of us have to spend a large part of our lives working it helps to have a satisfying reason for doing it. Mine is that I need the money, but I also enjoy most of what I do (given that it prevents me doing a lot of things that I would enjoy more, I can count myself lucky). There is still a major economic crisis in the wealthier countries of the world. To most people what matters is whether they still have a way of earning a decent living. In Spain there are over four million unemployed, and with the summer ending, that figure is likely to rise further. About the same number are uncertain about the security of their jobs, or are having to work twice as hard to earn something like what they used to. I’m in the last group, being self-employed, but I have found over the last couple of years that the work is there if I go looking for it and don’t mind working harder than before for the same money. Which means I’m one of the lucky ones, but the work actually has to be done, and so tomorrow I shall return to the city and be absorbed once more by the swell of working men who scuff their shoes on the pavement as they dawdle, hunchbacked and sullen, to the stand once more.

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