Blog

Stories from a life in progress.

Bolt-Hole

"On the following morning Caesar dismissed his clients after the dawn ritual and walked alone down the Vicus Patricii to the suite of rooms he rented in a tall insula located between the Fabricius dye works and the Suburan Baths.  This had become his bolt-hole after he returned from the war against Spartacus, when the living presence of mother and wife and daughter within his own home had sometimes rendered it so overpoweringly feminine that it proved intolerable.... Being a true Roman, he had not attempted to reorganize his domestic environment by forbidding noise and feminine intrusions, but rather avoided them by giving himself a bolt-hole."
Colleen McCullough, Caesar's Women

I'm not Roman (certainly not a Caesar of the Romans), not Italian, not even European.  I am not in need of an escape from any sort of "overpowering femininity."  But these words from Colleen McCullough's historical novel about Julius Caesar's political career are the ones that come to mind today.  For my own reasons, I'm making myself a bolt-hole.

I share a home with my parents, and we often share it with some of their grandchildren, and the grandchildren are awesome in every way kids can be, but they bring their normal share of kid noise and chaos.

More than that, working out of one's living space makes its own set of distractions.  When one tries to work in the same space as all of one's toys, sometimes work loses.  Some people have the kind of discipline to ignore everything else and focus on the work that needs done; as yet, I'm lacking in that sort of discipline.

As a result my life feels like a bunch of tangled string.  I am pulled in too many directions, and the pulling creates knots, and the more I get pulled, the tighter and more painful the knots become.  If I'm at home when kids are there, I feel obligated to help take care of the kids (at the expense of my work).  If I'm taking care of the kids or playing with them, I feel guilty for neglecting my work.  When I do work, I wonder if I should be helping with basic chores for the house.  No matter what I do, I'm doing something wrong.

I end up not working at anything because I'm not sure what to do, and then I feel like a failure everywhere.  I think all the pulling makes me more tired than I should be.  I know feeling a lack of progress makes me tired and frustrated.  That's the space I've been in for too long.

So I'm making a bolt-hole.

One of our neighboring families is a lovely aunt and uncle, people who are friends and mentors for me as well as family.  They have a beautiful house with extra space.  One of their open rooms has three gorgeous big windows to let in the light and a nice big desk.

I have office space outside of my house now.  Outside of my house, away from kids and parents, away from my own toys and distractions.  I have the opportunity to build a new routine of work:  getting up in the morning, GOING to a place, DOING the work, putting it away and coming home.

I can't leave all distractions behind, because I carry the source of them with me.  It's not other people or things who distract me, it's I myself who permit I-myself to get distracted.  But I hope removing myself from the sphere of habitual old distractions will help me concentrate and learn better discipline.

We'll see how it works out.  I know I have work to do, work to build my career and work to build my character.  I have a new desk and a new room as tools.  Watch this space.