This I Believe

Chrissy - Wixom, Michigan
Entered on November 29, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family
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Working to Live

by Chrissy Harkless

I believe in working to live. My work schedule needed a makeover. I kicked the habit – working way beyond 40 hours per week – a couple years ago, and I have learned that there’s so much more to life than sitting in a grey cubical all week.

I love changing the scenery and meeting new people. I’m spending another crazy weekend with my crazy grandma. We find ways to allow our self-proclaimed craziness to flourish. I’m so excited for another weekend when I leave my over-connected yet ironically less-impersonal life behind and enjoy her pace. I drive I-94 and shift gears from my overdrive-like life of bad, impersonal habits of text messaging, e-mailing, and MySpace social networking.

I learn many important lessons from her. She has had many incredible roles: mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, wife, sister, daughter, artist, best friend, volunteer schoolteacher, clown, and storyteller. She has a way of engaging with other people that is personal, present, and reciprocal. I have spent many years watching her and have noticed during the past few years that I have found a way to live and connect with others similar to examples she has set. Our culture doesn’t teach you that. They are too busy walking around with Bluetooth buds hanging out of their ears, sitting in traffic, extreme commuting, and eating fast food. I make many attempts to avoid this lifestyle and work enough so that I can live.

This weekend, my grandma and I signed up for Port Huron Hobo Fest. We’re going to dress up as hobos. She’s going to be a storyteller and I’m going to play vintage base ball on the hobo team. I look forward to more practice outside of my current lifestyle and love partaking in different, slower-paced activities.

My grandma has told me about growing up and traveling on trains with her mom and dad. Her dad worked for four railroad companies, so they traveled all over the United States. They lived in Detroit – free of GPS tracking systems, cell phones, laptops, and automobiles. Amazingly, they were still able to live, and connect with and find people. What a life!

My grandma taught me the importance of a hand-written note. I send note cards in the mail. I spend time visiting art museums and stop at museum gift shops to purchase cards, so I can send them to friends, family, people I just met, and many other contacts. There’s a sincerity and personal touch that has been lost in our society and I partially attribute it to our work schedules.

I believe in working to live. I earn money to afford canvas, paints, brushes, and other art supplies. I’ve put semesters on hold to spend time painting, learning guitar, and taking road trips.

I am thankful to my grandma for being a great teacher and storyteller. I want to have stories to pass on to generations. I believe in maintaining my work-to-live work schedule so that I can enjoy this life.