The Spanish existentialist theologian/philosopher Miguel de Unamuno wrote in his masterwork The Tragic Sense of Life that work is "the only practical consolation for being born." That is a stronger claim than I'm willing to defend here today, but I do think that work, any kind of work, any kind of activity at all, is a powerful consolation in the face of anxiety and dread.
Right now I'm consumed with anxiety and dread while awaiting the contractor's bid for the huge list of mandatory repairs I've been given from my overbearing HOA for my sweet little townhouse in Boulder. I know it will be bad, but I don't know how bad: ten thousand dollars? twenty thousand? more? Should I prepare to accept it with a sigh, or should I get more bids (well, I know I should do that, but oh, I hate this kind of thing so much!), or should I contact other homeowners to see if we can organize some kind of collective protest, or retain an attorney, or - ?? I want to do something, but I don't know what to do, and I might as well wait until I'm home for the holidays on Saturday, just two days away, right? It's hard enough to do anything at all about this hideous financial and logistical challenge; it's that much harder to do something when I'm a thousand miles away.
So I woke up this morning filled with misery, unable to face the rest of the day, or the week, or the month, or the year, or my life.
But then I remembered that I did have eight papers to grade from students who had turned in their papers early. I had already read drafts of most of these and given lots of preliminary comments, so grading them would take hardly any time at all.
I could grade those papers!!!
I made myself my usual mug of Swiss Miss hot chocolate, picked up my favorite Pilot Razor Point fine-tipped black marker pen, and started grading.
Now I have eight papers done, eight papers that I won't need to carry with me on the plane back to Colorado, eight papers that I can cross off my list, eight completed tasks I can show for myself today.
And this horrid HOA mess - in the end, it's only money, and I'm good at coming up with money if I have to. I call it "willing money into being," and I can do it if I need to. I've done it before. I can do it again.
A woman with eight papers graded already this morning can do pretty much anything.