“I used to be kind of an anxious person, but now I’m not, because I’m exhausted at night,” Mrs. Robinson half-laughs as she cuts up pieces of honey + honeycomb for us. My class is sitting on a haphazard assortment of lawn chairs together, gazing out at the wide stretch of field, forest, and farm around us. The sun is hot and bright, warming the cool morning air.
Having thought/felt exactly the same thing, Mrs. Robinson’s words resonate with me. But unlike her, I do not like work; I do, however, like how calming it is. I worked all summer—hard labor—tearing down the neglected house my dad had just bought. My muscles were constantly sore. I got tar and dust and insulation in my eyes. My skin was frequently shredded by nails/sharp siding/wood, etc. While we were there, I worked at least eight hours a day in the blazing summer heat. And yet, when my friends lamented my plight, I found I couldn’t wholly agree with them. While my depression went nowhere, my anxiety definitely eased. I put on my sturdy, heavy work boots, and I found I was also putting on confidence. Putting on an excuse to wear whatever I wanted, no matter how badly it looked/how dirty it was. To drive how I wanted, listen to the music I wanted, eat what I wanted. To stop caring so much about what people thought, because they weren’t the ones breaking their backs hauling wheelbarrows full of rocks and bricks.
Looking out at Mrs. Robinson’s small “farm”/garden, I wonder what it’d be like to live as her family does. To live a harder life, for some peace and self-esteem. She clearly thinks it’s worth it. But I’m not sure… True, the kind of soul-stilling, calming beauty she surrounds herself with is something I currently do without, but I’m limping through this life, and it hasn’t been too bad. And really, I have lived as she does: my parents have four acres of grass, swamp, woods, and wildness. We have a large garden, where we grow our own food. We’ve cared for various chickens and horses (although never owning any ourselves). We work hard everyday.
At least, they do. I hated it, and was so desperate to get out of there, I shipped myself off to boarding school. But looking around at Mrs. Robinson’s property, at the sunlight filtering through her self-nurtured golden honeycombs, I realize that it’s different when you choose to live in this manner, instead of being forced into it.
Perhaps I really will end up following my parent’s footsteps.