Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Past Deadline: Poster Girl

I am the poster girl for work-life balance.

Oh, yeah. Didn’t you know?

It’s the same sort of deal as that really ugly guy (I think it was a guy – I can’t be sure) who was on the poster for smoking when I was in high school. The poster was in study hall, which gave us minor niners lots of time to stare at it during spares. It featured possibly the world’s ugliest person – scary hair, sunken eyes, wrinkles – with a cigarette dangling from his lips.
The text on the poster read: “Smoking is so glamorous.” (That poster taught us about irony, too.)

Well, here it is 2010 and I don’t smoke. Yay! The poster worked!

Given the obvious success of that other poster, perhaps I should express my gratitude by making it my life’s work to help other folks to avoid my work-life balance plight. I should pose for a poster to convince people they don’t want to end up like me.

So let’s imagine it.

Well, there I’d be – with my typically scary hair, sunken eyes (bloodshot and with dark circles, too), wrinkled brow/worry frown and with a chewed pen dangling from my lips. And, possibly, there would be a mouse cord around my neck and a sheath of papers trailing behind me. The text on the poster would read, “Working all the time is so glamorous.” Possibly in the background of this poster you would see two little blurs to represent my kids and their fleeting childhoods.

The thing is, I like to be busy. In fact, I sometimes don’t know what to do with myself if I’m not busy.

That’s probably not such a good thing, though, and there are definitely limits to busyness. In my world that’s when I run into those work-life balance issues – when I don’t know how to turn off the work part and enjoy the life part.

I know lots of people who are so busy it makes my head spin. They have two or three jobs that carry a lot of responsibility, not to mention having spouses and children and lives beyond that. Sometimes those people even go out and have fun! I suspect they either a) only sleep once a week or b) are robots.

Maybe the whole thing comes down to the definition of busy.

There is actually a fairly long list of definitions for this word in the dictionary – enough to keep one occupied for a good long time, or at least for many, many seconds. First off, it is defined as being “occupied in work etc. with the attention concentrated.” Makes sense. I’m curious to know what the “etc.” is, though.

Busy can also be defined as “full of activity,” “having heavy traffic” and “excess of detail.”

Then we get into “employed continuously; unresting,” which seems to hit the nail on the head for me. I’ve been feeling a tad unrested lately.

Okay. I know that I’m taking that last definition just a little too literally. “Employed” doesn’t necessarily mean “paid to do work,” it can just mean, well, busy doing something (“occupied in work, etc. with the attention concentrated,” perhaps?). And “unresting” doesn’t necessarily mean you never get any sleep – it could just refer to doing anything that isn’t sleeping.

So, I guess this means I could be busy, say, reading a book. Or going for a run (yeah, ’cause that’s been going really well) or having a bubble bath or playing with the children or going out with friends or eating brownies.

Whoa. I could be busy having fun!

So it would seem the possibilities for being busy are endless and they don’t have to be exhausting. (We’ll just ignore the whole “who has time for fun” aspect of this issue for the moment so we don’t spoil the fantasy.)

You know, with that kind of busy, I truly should strive to be the poster girl for work-life balance. I might even like it. I could feed my need to be occupied without having to be a robot.

So the picture on the poster would morph into me with great hair, sparkly eyes, wrinkle-free skin – with a brownie hanging from my mouth.

Yeah, I don’t believe it either. Except maybe the brownie part.
Published in The Perth Courier, Nov. 4/10

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