I’m not complaining about being a productive citizen. I buy into the work ethic as much as the next Protestant-flavored Muslim. The nuns (at the Catholic school I attended in Lahore) ensured that I possessed, along with several O Levels, a haunting, perpetually self-deprecatory desire to appease the next teacher/administrator/mentor/adviser/editor/blog reader that came along. So work is welcome. It fills the bottomless pit. It generates value. And it creates opportunities to escape the dishwasher.
I don’t complain about work per se. I have been working since I was 6, truly. The only thing I have to come to dream of is work which arrives in the form of manageable, reasonable chunks. Not small ones. That would be wimpy. Big, impressive chunks that generate adrenaline and allow you to appear busy enough to escape long conversations in the hallway. But still big chunks that can be completed before the next avalanche arrives.
As I slowly, very slowly, inch closer to my mid-40s, I dream of occasionally savoring a single moment of transition. I yearn to hold half a second in my hands, so that I may dust my hands in a satisfying manner, and exclaim to no one in particular: “Done! Grant proposal / article/ chapter/ grades/ service/ committee work/etc. – Check!” or any such triumphant remark of self-congratulation. Nothing excessive. That would smack of joy and complacency. But, in this era of speed, multiple roles, information explosion, and so on, is a moment of accomplishment and satisfaction far too much to request?