Horse Treats, Pajamas, and Work-Life Balance

In Opinion

Today I woke up to find a pile of horse treats in the bathroom. It is not an uncommon occurrence to also find riding apparel and other paraphernalia strewn about the house as well. Breeches, bits, and bridles. I’m glad that horse shoes are lucky, since I also find them frequently ‘on display’ as well.

(Note: when I read Elisa a draft of this post, she commented by saying “at least I had the presence of mind mind to check my pockets. It wouldn’t have been the first time that I put horse treats in the washing machine”)

Odd though these deposits may seem sometimes, they are actually similar to the artifacts of my own work day. We all bring work home. It sticks to us like a tag-along or a burr. The difference between Elisa and me is that the artifacts of her day are tangible, where as mine are abstract. With each physical deposit, Elisa releases the day and liberates herself from her work. These are real gestures that are also symbolic, and they have very real and positive psychological effects.

Because my work is not physical, it can be more difficult for me to release the mental products of my day. I don’t have anything to lay down, and so I have nothing to symbolically unbind me from the stresses and obligations of work.

Where the body goes, the mind will follow. Elisa and I will sometimes disagree about pajamas. When Elisa is finished for the day, she immediately takes a bath and puts on pajamas and insists that I do the same (It makes her anxious if I don’t. This is also a practice exercised by her father, Rick). This is not something that I am accustomed to, in large part, I think, because I am not accustomed to not working. But I am slowly coming around to appreciate the importance of rest, and the fact that the movement from work into that restful state can only take place through specific decisions that I make about my orientation relative to specific objects in my environment. I don’t have horse treats that I can empty from my pockets, but I can put on my pajamas.

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