August 1, 2017 (Tuesday)

by Yule Heibel on July 31, 2018

In today’s “Motivation” question, “how does it make you feel to see others share in your happiness,” I realized that my “natural” instinct is to gravitate toward unhappiness. That is, I couldn’t come up with examples of “seeing” others sharing in my happiness, the way a mother might beam with pride at seeing her child accomplish something successfully – and be happy about it. This is the legacy of having had a mother with depression, I realized. You can’t allow yourself to picture yourself being applauded for succeeding – either because it never happened, or it never came from the person who mattered most, or because the sense of unhappiness which the person who most mattered – materia, mater, mother – was so overwhelming that it negated any beams of joy sent out by others. It’s rather …sad; sad to realize.

Yesterday the workers started laying down the new boards. They’re taking their time about it, going forward with great care and pride of craftsmanship. They again worked like dogs, from 7:30a.m. till 6:30p.m. or so. And they don’t complain or curse; when their ride comes to take them home, they’re tired but seem happy. I usually go out to thank them.

Last night a pretty, slim young woman, her jeans covered in paint, popped out of the taxi-home van and happily inspected the work the men had done. She was smiling even though she, too, had probably been working on a site all day, at least painting if not doing heavy carpentry. She was visibly happy for the good work the men had done here. It makes me feel odd to have these happy, uncomplaining laborers who work practically non-stop through broiling heat, perhaps because I’ve worked construction jobs myself and know what it’s like. Now it’s 7:20a.m. and I can hear them arriving for the day. No slackers need apply. Where do these immigrants, some naturalized Americans like R., others maybe not yet, find these other immigrants? In their communities. They work without any supervision, so they’re completely trustworthy, and trusted, too. There has to be a great, expansive web of reciprocity here. I wonder if that web has been shredded for us non-struggling but still struggling folks, for PLUs (“people like us”) in the middle of the food chain, who have let exploitation become an economic abstraction, one without reciprocal obligations.

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