25 November 2011

Eight Hours

Supreme Court from hot air balloon - photo by Craig

I never liked rollercoasters.  The first time I went on the Big Dipper at Luna Park I thought I was going to die.  I reassured my sister that "God would save us". She found this hilarious and promptly told my other siblings who used it as the family phrase for extreme over-reaction and hideous piety for years after.

I also don't like conflict. Everyone would say that - I suppose no one likes conflict. But I, I am a chronic conflict avoider. I am not the person who speaks up in a restaurant if the service is bad or the food diabolical. I'll likely stew over something rather than bring it up. I'm even more likely to rationalise it so that there is nothing to bring up (I'm totally fine about that appalling transgression of yours, don't mention it).

As I don't like rollercoasters and I don't like conflict, it has frequently given me pause that I have spent more than 15 years as a litigation lawyer, involving, as it does, constant conflict and an upsetting number of highs and lows.

Sometimes I would like to withdraw to a place that is a little more, something,(comfortable?) and a little less something (full on?). So why don't I?

Maybe it's because:
there is intellectual stimulation aplenty;
sometimes it is thrillingly exciting;
there are smart smart smart people to work with;
there are inspiring people;
there is a sense that taking this case or that case is the right thing;
there is a sense that I am helping someone;
there are lovely clients;
there is a certain status to which I am not immune;
there is an easy answer to the question 'what do you do?';
there is decent money;
there is the ego boost of being right and winning;
there is a sense of being at the cutting edge;
there is a lot of being outside my comfort zone;
there is a sense of satisfaction in managing, even way outside my comfort zone;
there is time away from home and the kids;
there is security, familiarity, safety.

But then again there's:
stress that I don't enjoy;
sometimes it is unspeakably boring;
there is a terrible crap feeling when we lose;
there is anxiety about whether I am really any good at this or whether I've just fooled the people around me all these years;
there are sometimes long hours and hard days;
there is a desk and an office that are bland and not creative;
there is a lot of sitting down and a lot of reading and a lot of looking at a computer;
there is nothing tangible as a result of my labour;
there is sometimes nothing that I can do to help, even though I want to;
there is disillusionment with the legal system;
there are not-so-lovely clients;
there is sometimes too much time away from home and the kids;
there is fear of change;
there is fear of the unknown.

Also playing into the mix is my own desire to model something to my daughters, and I'm not exactly sure what that is.  I don't want them to equate a working mother with a grumpy stressed mother which is probably what they see more often that the empowered, enthused, energised-from-her-work mother I aim to be. I think that a mother who does not work outside the home can be an awesome feminist role model to her children. But I am pretty sure that for me, for my family, outside work is right.

Every day I cycle past the monument to the eight hour day outside Trade's Hall.  A golden orb tops the plinth  with "888" and the words Rest, Labour, Recreation, banded around it.  Imagine if we really did eight hours work (whether paid or not) each day. Imagine if we got eight hours sleep each night. Imagine if we each had eight hours to play with in every twenty-four. Imagine if this ideal could be realised for everyone, across the world. It was something worth fighting for, once.

Anyway it's way too late to be up when I've work tomorrow. My theoretical eight hours sleep are constantly eroded by my play on this blog... More thinking to be done on this.

1 comment:

  1. Well I just learnt some interesting new things about you!

    888 sounds awesome to me. I struggle getting the sleep part. And the work takes the lion's share! Play? Depends if I remember to make lots of my parenting time playtime.

    I've worked on and off since having kids (in community development) and I've conceded that there is never the right balance, only a rearranging of pieces to recreate balance. Not sure if this is good to model or not?