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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Blame It on Mary Poppins

When I was young, Mary Poppins planted the idea in my head that “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.” Five years later, my father wrote a treatise on the Protestant Work Ethic. It seems that hard work is part of a person’s calling in the world; in completing work, we are serving God. Those are powerful messages to plant in the developing brain of a young woman. In fact, those two beliefs were tightly woven into the fabric of who I have become.
I have clear evidence of this fact while I take refuge on Martha’s Vineyard. While western Massachusetts suffers through the chaos and discomfort of an electricity-free zone, I have found safe haven at the Oak House on the Vineyard. Theoretically, I should have little more to do than write, eat, and of course, take hot baths. Wouldn’t you know by 6a.m. I had written a To Do list that has 23 tasks on it? Now isn’t that ridiculous? I seem driven to find work even when I could simply do nothing. Instead, I want to put my aunt’s cremains to rest, make brownies, sort through my father’s house, drag clothes to the thrift shop, and the list goes on....
If asked, I can trace this compulsion to be doing, to have work to accomplish, to the 150 times I listened to Mary Poppins sing her instructions to find fun in work and to my father’s treatise on Protestantism. Sometimes, I wonder why bother on this kind of self-reflection. Especially when I have laundry to put in the dryer.

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