The Last Week of Summer

 

This is the last week of summer for me.

Next Monday my grad classes start up again, which I’m both excited about and dreading. Excited because this semester promises to be the best one yet. I’m taking a class about web coding and a one about the specific library type I work in, both of which I’m pretty passionate about. Students will be returning to the university library where I work, and I have a part-time teaching opportunity. This semester looks great.

But I’m not ready for summer to end.

Summer is the time of freedom. Weekends spent at my family’s house, weeks spent hosting teen-aged nieces, evenings spent cooking elaborately delicious dinners, and hours spent pleasure-reading and watching Netflix. I can do whatever I want without having to deal with the guilt and stress of not doing homework.

And all of that is going to be over in 6 short days.

The Daily Coffee Routine

People are always surprised when I tell them I’m not a morning person.  My answer? “I’m not a morning person, but coffee lets me pretend I am.” I developed this routine of morning coffee a little over a year ago when I started student teaching; let me just say, morning comes early for teachers.  A year later, my morning coffee remains, but the routine has changed.

I arrive at work 10 minutes early just so I can make sure and have enough pre-work coffee time. The pot is already done brewing, having been put on by my oh-so-excellent coffee brewer coworker.  Creamer, sweetener, and coffee all dance together in my air-tight coffee cup – coffee is, after all, better shaken, not stirred.  This is the part where most people start actually drinking their coffee, but not me.  This is the best part: I hold my coffee cup.  I cradle it between my hands, letting the coffee’s warmth seep through the cup, into my hands, through my body, and into my heart.  Eventually I do get around to sipping through my coffee, but holding the cup gives me just as much of a morning wake up as the caffeine does.

I Love My Job

When I interviewed for this job, the director tried to talk me out of taking the job. Not because he didn’t want to hire me (he approached me about the job in the first place), but because he knew I could get a job at many other places that would two, three, four times as much as I will ever make here. He was concerned that I was going to unknowingly hitch myself to a horse with no flow.

He is not the last person to ask me why I work here for next to nothing when I could make more elsewhere – almost anywhere else. People seem baffled about this for some reason.

My answer is always the same: I’m not doing this to get rich; I’m doing this because I love it.

I love working in my library. I wake up in the morning excited to face the day of work.  Not many people can say that. Far to many people hate their jobs. They wake up in the morning dreading going to work, and by the time they get home they are too drained from a job they hate to enjoy life outside of work. What is the point of having a bank full of money if I am too miserable to enjoy spending it/giving it away? Why would I want to live dreading five days a week? Living for the weekends is not enough for me. I want to love every day (even Mondays)!

I work with a wonderful team. These people genuinely care – not just about me, but about everyone. I can be real with them and they with me. Our staff meetings always start with Bible reading and prayer. If I ever have something I need prayer for, every one of my coworkers will stop what they’re doing and pray for me.

I don’t have to miss church for work. In fact, I’m pretty sure I would get in trouble if I skipped church to work.

Will I get rich here? No.

But I will be happy, and happiness trumps money every time.

 

If Money Was No Object?

Yesterday I was challenged to think about the question, “What would you do if money was no object?

Watch the video:

After deliberating a good while, I talked to my friends about how I would travel the world and study under the greatest artists in the world and learn to translate the incredible images in my head onto canvas. I went to bed sad because I know this can never happen.

Today, however, I thought about it again. The point of this video was not to make people depressed because of the impossibility of their dreams. The point of this video was to impress upon people the importance of doing what you love and loving what you do. Do things because you love it, not because it is going to line your pocket.

I currently work part time at a library I’ve worked at since October, 2008, making $8.50 an hour. My pockets are so far from lined that my paychecks fall through them almost instantly. I realize that I am being under paid and (according to coworkers) undervalued at this current job, but that is not the point.  Yes, I could probably go to another library and work there full time for a lot more than I’m currently making, but that, again, is not the point.  My thoughts today about this video and the principles behind it lead me to an epiphany: I do not want to work at a different library. I like this library very much. I understand how it works, I have great camaraderie with my coworkers, I share the same belief system with both my coworkers and the university the library serves, and I genuinely enjoy what I do every day. I look forward to going to work because I love it.

I could work for another library. But I wouldn’t be as happy.

And that, my friends, is the point.

Appearance vs. Reality

Image

His name is James, and he’s a scholar.

Everyday a balding, upper-middle-aged gentleman rides his bicycle to my library wearing mis-matched clothing, a duct-taped helmet, a back brace (held on by a belt), and lugging a patched up, ancient military backpack. He is going deaf, so he talks louder than one should in a library, and he mutters to himself not-so-quietly the entire time he’s here.

He doesn’t know how to use a computer. He takes copious notes in his giant three-ring binder, and when he needs to look up a definition (which he frequently does), he has to break out the stone tablet-sized, weighs-more-than-you-do dictionary.

He believes in conspiracy theories – as far as I can tell, all of them.

He seems like a kooky old man who has nothing better to do with his time than make work for the librarians and disturb other patrons with his eccentricities.

He professes to be ignorant, but he’s not. Over the four years I have watched him in the library, he has studied every topic imaginable. He studies ancient warfare, the SAT, army tanks, Bible commentaries, religious cults, aircraft, the government, Sunday School literature, theological debates, sermon-making, geography, philosophy, psychology, and missions. Every few days he has a different set of books he’s poring over.

He’s a scholar.

He makes me ashamed of myself.

Here I am – in the midst of my Master’s degree, graduated magna cum laude, nationally ranked Bible Quizzer – and I can honestly say I have never studied as much or as hard as he does on a daily basis. I have studied by requirement and I have studied for reward, but never have I ever diligently studied because I wanted to.

Where does his drive come from? I wish I knew.