Our Real Human Work

A beautiful Sunday in June: kites are flying, seniors are graduating, dogs have their heads out car windows, and I am annoyed.

I have taken a left and gotten inhaled into a dense ooze of tourists. Come ON, folks! I exasperate silently, do you need to look at every brick in the sidewalk?

I turn up my podcast, put down my head; I’ll plow through this. But at the next block, the ooze thickens; they are watching a band on the corner mangle up a defenseless pop song.

I go to turn my podcast up again. And that’s when I get it: You’re at war with reality, Caitie. Fight it all you want, but you can’t control this.

Which leaves a person with one choice: Ooze into it.

I take out my earbuds, lift up my head. I see pink and white ice cream melting on a pothole cover and a woman looking royal in a dress the color of the night sky. I hear a youth orchestra playing, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and a passerby exclaim, “Queen!’” I see an older woman get out of a truck with midwestern plates and bend down to pick up a penny on the ground before she gets into a long line.

What’s the line for? I ask her. High school graduation, she says. I congratulate her on her graduate.

I sit down in the shade. I take out my work. And I understand: this is my real work. My writing and planning, teaching and scheduling - that is my vocation. But my work, the real human work, is the work of being in this world as it is.

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