Monday, June 18, 2012

Getting Untangled

Within a few weeks of starting my job, in late 2007, I began making a rubber band ball. I'd had one at my previous summer job; as a lawyer (and a law firm clerk, or intern), you just naturally deal with a lot of rubber bands. You're always receiving packets of documents from clients, colleagues, opposing counsel, hospitals, etc., and most are too thick for a mere paper clip or staple. So they're rubber banded together. But what do you do with the rubber bands once you move those papers into a binder, or are done using them and toss them in the shred bin? I suppose you could just throw out the rubber bands, but that seems so wasteful. And the mailroom, where office supplies are kept, is on a whole other floor. Who wants to walk that far just to return a rubber band? Why not make art?

Yeah, I think the logic went something like that. Or it was just inexplicable impulse. And so, the ball was begun. And it grew. And grew. And grew.

Last week, I hit a wall, and realized I just couldn't take it anymore. Not the ball; we'll get back to the ball. But life. At 30, most of my friends are married. Many have had children or have children on the way. They've got their shit together, or at least they seem to. While I don't have kids, marriage is on the way, and I'm a homeowner. I've got a veritable domestic zoo comprised of four cats and a monster dog. My friends probably think I have my shit together, too.

But I don't. I eat and drink too much, sleep too little. I work too much, but not well or productively enough. I pay $60 a month in fat tax: the Sweat gym membership I haven't used in nearly a year. There are still boxes in the basement and, embarrassingly, kitchen of my house that haven't been unpacked, and Jill and I moved into our place almost two years ago.

To be honest. It's fucking overwhelming. Work. Dog. Work. Drink. Can't sleep. Work. Eat. How the hell am I behind on work? House. Dog. Eat. House. Work.

As I sat in my office yesterday, I glared at the rubber band ball, and saw my life. A mess of interwoven strands all adding up to one big tangled nothing. It just sits there, and while it's grown, it hasn't become any more functional. I'm fed up with life being like that, and I became fed up with the ball.

But I couldn't just throw it out. That would be too ... simple? Pointless? But as I stared at the ball, I decided that it had to die. The ball certainly didn't get so big and tangled overnight, and neither did my life. And both have to get untangled, strand by strand. I peeled off 30 rubber bands from the ball yesterday. Some snapped, and some were too stretched and weak to keep. Those I threw out. Some were still perfectly functional, so I put them back where they belong—in the mailroom. This morning, I peeled off 10 more rubber bands, as a reminder of what I need to work towards. If I take care of business at work today, at the end of the day, I'll allow myself to peel off 10 more. And so I hope it will go, every day, until it's done.

Here's hoping I can do the same with life.