When did you take the easy way?
Soundtrack to today's contemplation:
Not much has seemed exactly EASY this year. Not that anything is worth complaint - this life is a good one. But just about every aspect has been, well, less than easy. That's good. I like less-than-easy. I bore quickly, especially when things are easy. So, ain't no easy way, and I'm glad about it.
Time Management: Not easy. There is too much good work, in too many good places, with too many good people. I am, it turns out, a flawed and finite human being. I can be in but one place at a time. Three things at once really is my limit. But I want to do seven! Everything, all at once! I haven't done the math, but I'm pretty sure my workload averaged out to ~60 hours per week this year. Mind you, that's with one 3/4 time pastor job, 2 10hrs/wk contract jobs, and a few writing projects thrown in for good measure. Too much. And, right, sometimes I should do non-work related things, too, huh? I am learning, but...not easy.
New Job: Not easy. Pastors' job descriptions are famously underwritten, and I've never done this before. I'd like to take a crack at an honest depiction of what it is pastors actually do (take note, writing group). Suffice it to say that I have logged professional hours this year performing tasks ranging from chauffeuring high schoolers around DC in Friday afternoon rush hour [this is a regular occurrence] to writing liturgy, from spending hours in surgical waiting rooms to cheering my head off at middle school basketball games, from meeting with seminary presidents to cleaning vomit from carpeted nursery hallways, from navigating middle school love triangles to serving communion, bouncing in inflatable obstacle courses to anointing beloved heads with oil. No day is like any other, and most of this stuff is stuff I've never even attempted before now. Not easy.
Suburban Living: Not easy. I suppose someone knows this, theses have been written, conclusions reached and urban planning thus altered, but I'll offer up the observation from the front lines of the battle toward nowhere: suburban living sucks. Plain and simple. I live on a major road that's been under construction the entire 12 months I've been here - sidewalks impeded and unavailable. Across the street is a major industrial area - microprocessors and missiles and god knows how much chemical runoff being produced a hundred yards from my front door. The commuter train rolls through my backyard, whistling its arrivals and departures morning and evening, Dulles International Airport is less than 20 miles down the road, and every so often an ear-rattling sonic boom from some kind of weapons testing at Quantico literally shakes the foundations of my house. The town itself has a modicum of personality, but is dominated by four-lane roads and chain restaurants. Most people leave to work closer to Fairfax or DC, staffing government offices or government contractors, buildings filled with money and power and expertise. The pace of life makes me dizzy, as do the economic and cultural assumptions of security, wealth, and excellence. There is little room for the genuine, for lingering, for failure. As if that weren't enough (oh, there will be more written on the topic), there's not a decent local coffee shop in a twenty mile radius. This place does not exude peaceful, easy feelings. To live peacefully, simply, together, here? A totally different experience. Not easy.
Relationships: Not easy. A long stretch of I-81 now separates me from the fam. This year, my closest friends - almost to a one - have fallen farther away: moved across the country or the world, fallen in love or gotten married, drifted out or cut themselves off. Dating requires an entire post of its own [pro tip, though - your recent gout flare-up, your current spiritual crises and subsequent confessions, your disapproval of female ministers: none of these is appropriate first date conversation material, gentlemen. take note.] There are new and blessed friends, an entire congregation of good, good people, and some pretty exciting possibilities for community across the miles, but: damn. A single, 30 year old woman working as a pastor in a new place? Not easy.
There's more, I suppose. Getting ordained? Not easy. Staying healthy? Not easy. But that's probably enough, for now. And, despite - or possibly because of - the lack of ease, this year has been full up with goodness. Ask me that question next, O Great List of Blog Prompts.