Odilia Rivera Santos
When I began posting on this blog, I had a vague idea about changing my relationship with work; I have always been like the battered woman going back to her batterer despite warnings and close calls. Work has been my batterer and muse. I have worked at locations with no heat, toliets that flushed occasionally, with people who have fallen off the margins.
I have left work at night in a neighborhood where gang members would routinely shoot out street lights so that their nightly takeover could be done as if in a silent film. In very dangerous places, people become very quiet when the lights go off - everyone is a nocturnal panther except that some of us look for prey on the way home and some of us are just trying to get home without becoming prey.
I, as a teacher, counselor, social worker, dance instructor, life coach, writing instructor, worked with women who lived in shelters and repeatedly said their lives were over, so the teacher shouldn't worry about them but if the teacher could do something for their kids, that would be nice. The kids still had a chance.
Twenty eight hours per week of listening to why something could not be done and why life was not worth being excited about.
I listened in awe. The apathy was a haze that filled the air and clogged their ears. I wanted to run to the windows and throw them open to force everyone to see the sun, clouds, the gorgeous architecture of Harlem.
I started this blog in the hopes that I would talk my way out of spending the majority of my time with people who were not interested in my opinions or help.
I found it cathartic to go in and rummage around to find a way to bring those stuck deep down a well up - but at times, all I managed to do was take a withered flame down.
I resigned myself to the fact that the act of working with humans who are self-loathing requires infinite patience and the ego leaves you to find a place in which to receive a better reception or reward.
It was cathartic to consider an escape.
I called my blog leisurefications because it was time to think of working as if my intelligence and skills had value as opposed to someone who does not yet know she has talents or someone whose parents grew up during the depression.
My supposedly brilliant mind was slightly pained to leave and completely fried at the thought of staying.
It was time to move to a higher echelon as far as motivation and passion are concerned.
No, I could no longer face down individuals who never thought of sitting in Central Park or going for a walk after a home-cooked meal or seeing a free concert or speaking about gratitude.
Abraham Maslow's ideas of human potential also applied to me.
Some people truly enslave themselves, as I looked at my students/clients, I saw my own self-imposed enslavement.
I am finally traveling light not because my man is gone but because the burden to light fires under other asses is no longer a fire under my ass.