I’ve been busy… Not really, though.
I’ve actually had a lot of spare time. A couple naps, some laundry, a few DVRed shows, an appointment or two. It goes quickly. Time that is. But really there’s no excuse.
Truthfully, I haven’t been inspired. There’s been little in the news and less in my life to justify words to paper or fingers to keys. The summer was easy. Food, TV, Travel. I was fulfilled, satisfied, accomplished even.
Then the cold, yet lingering humid reality of work, or as the rest of the world refers to it, school, returned. The silver lining, I reasoned to myself, was fresh lunches.
Brown bags bursting with stories of fresh outlooks. Plastic zip locks baggies packed with personal trials. And Tupperware containers toppling over with leftovers from amazing summer travels.
Yet it was quickly evident that the place with the most human interaction in months was the one that offered the least real connection. I would say the irony was startling, but it wasn’t. This is what I’d expected. Something was lost.
I received a sad, smelly plate of disappointment and disenfranchisement. The beginning of this year was as stale as the cookies from Labor Day. All metaphors and similes aside, I’d lost any desire to write because it seemed as though others had lost any desire to talk, myself included, about anything other than their problems and their overall displeasure with their work.
It’s sad really, depressing even. When the professional ills of a singular institution have amassed such weight as to squeeze and outright suppress the human desire for meaningful expression outside the boundaries of the ills themselves, then something is terribly wrong.
A little history lesson. The Lunch Break was founded on the principle of conversation, and its quintessential value in the promotion and tolerance of varying ideas. It’s an ideal that has spawned into something quite unexpected and that has taken on a life of its own. People write, for free, for us, and for you. They share their thoughts, passions, and hopes with you, and ask for nothing in return. That’s a true community, one that I miss in reality.
There’s still hope though. As the year has progressed, injustices have been managed, and routines reestablished, a new life of rewarding communication seems to be returning. A little relativism has been reclaimed and people have remembered that it could truly be worse. We seem to be remembering what matters again- children, food, TV, sports, weekends, friends, family, Fall- and seem to be ignoring what doesn’t- work, bosses, crappy colleagues, bad weather, annoying students...
From here is what matters. The sustainment of genuine conversation, every day, is something that we must remain committed to, no matter how stressed, how frustrated, how irritated. This time is essential to our limited slice of joy, and it is not something we can't afford to sacrifice. We give enough. Take your lunch back. Take it back, enjoy it, and cherish it, because if not, you’ll lose it.