One of the perks of working as a full-time staff with InterVarsity (and being married to one) is that a few times a year, InterVarsity Press sends a free shipment of new books that have recently been published. My (Lindsay) goal is to read one book each time we get a shipment (which is usually two or three books), and so far, I’ve been doing pretty good: I’ve read three books from the last four shipments, and am working on the latest one now.
My current choice is Work, Play, Love by Mark R. Shaw, and while I’m only two chapters in, it’s been challenging my ideas about life. Specifically, it’s been challenging what Shaw has been focusing on in these two chapters: the work-life balance. It’s one thing I’ve struggled with in the past few years – especially because Hans works from home and works non-traditional hours, all of which tends to blend with family life in a unique way.
After a discussion about the way Lady Wisdom worked and played with God during the creation of the world, focusing on Proverbs 8, chapter two focused on the idea of play. While sharing with Hans about the book, I told him about fiero (an Italian word that Shaw equates with the idea of an “epic win” in a competition). Shaw’s encouragement in the chapter is (among other things) to structure our workday so that we can seek to accomplish an epic win.
And so, I decided to attempt an epic win yesterday. It looked something like this:
- Spend time focused on Caleb, playing with him as he desired, especially in the morning.
- Clean up the kitchen before dinner prep started.
- Make Caleb’s Christmas present. (I was guessing it would take an hour of sewing)
- Roast a turkey with all the fixings. (We were a few days late for our Thanksgiving meal at home.)
Coming up with my list in the morning gave me something to focus on and a reason to multi-task more efficiently than normal. (I ran from my sewing machine to the kitchen a few times.) But it also gave me a feeling of satisfaction to see everything done at the end of the day. I thought I was crazy for attempting a few “big” things in one day, but it was fun to juggle them and work hard.
Of course, today I didn’t come up with as structured of a list for my epic win, and I haven’t focused on the other ways to structure my day much, either, so I have some working to do. But after my experiment I’m ready to try again.
Now on to reading the rest of the book!
Note: I was not asked to write a review of the book – I simply wanted to share my thoughts about and experience with the book.
He was very tired, for though they had ridden slowly, they had ridden with very little rest. Hour after hour for nearly three weary days he had jogged up and down, over passes, and through long dales, and across many streams. Sometimes where the way was broader he had ridden at the king’s side, not noticing that many of the Riders smiled to see the two together: the hobbit on his little shaggy gray pony, and the Lord of Rohan on his great white horse. Then he had talked to Théoden, telling him about his home and the doings of the Shire-folk, or listening in turn to tales of the Mark and its mighty men of old. But most of the time, especially on this last day, Merry had ridden by himself just behind the king, saying nothing, and trying to understand the slow sonorous speech of Rohan that he heard the men behind him using. It was a language in which there seemed to be many words that he knew, though spoken more richly and strongly than in the Shire, yet he could not piece the words together. At times some Rider would lift up his clear voice in stirring song, and Merry felt his heart leap, though he did not know what it was about.
All the same he had been lonely, and never more so than now at the day’s end. He wondered where in all this strange world Pippin had got to; and what would become of Aragorn and Legolas and Gimili. Then suddenly like a cold touch on his heart he thought of Frodo and Sam. ‘I am forgetting them!’ he said to himself reproachfully. ‘And yet, they are more important than all the rest of us. And I came to help them; but now they must be hundreds of miles away, if they are still alive.’ He shuddered.
– The Return of the King, Chapter 3
When I began reading The Lord of the Rings for relaxation, I never expected to get a lesson in culture shock, but I feel like these two paragraphs express exactly what it is like to be a stranger in a new culture.
“He was very tired, for though they had ridden slowly, they had ridden with very little rest. Hour after hour for nearly three weary days he had jogged up and down, over passes, and through long dales, and across many streams.” Merry was tired – he was required to do an activity he was not accustomed to and it made him tired. Likewise, we found ourselves very tired when we first arrived because everything was new and required a lot of concentration. Simply buying sunscreen required a lot of effort – Where do we buy it? How much should it cost? Which bottle should we buy? When everything is new, it takes more work to accomplish a small task.