A Laboring Cow

I heard a podcast once about living in the moment verses letting your mind wander and how across to board when people allowed their minds to wander they reported feeling unhappy. They reported feeling most unhappy while commuting to and from their jobs because that’s when their minds wandered the most. It wasn’t the job making them feel miserable; it was the time spent getting to and from it.

I find this oddly funny.

This made me think of Sisyphus and his punishment of pushing an immense boulder up a hill only to watch it roll back down again. He was sentenced to do this for eternity. But Sisyphus’s punishment wasn’t the intense physical part. His punishment was watching it roll back down each time. It was during the downtime, the time spent letting his mind wander, that’s when he felt his punishment the most. That’s when he felt his unhappiest.

I know. That’s not real.


I live in a suburban town in New Jersey, just outside of New York City. And I spend a lot of time letting my mind wander. Sometimes, I feel like the suburbs are my commute to and from life. Not that I know what life is, or what that even means. I know that I rarely have adult conversations anymore. I turn on WNYC and listen to other people talk about shit so as to not let my wander too much.

It helps.

I make dinner for the kids. I shorten the stems of flowers hoping to keep them around longer. I light candles. Sometimes I scratch Walter’s bug bites for him. I run a lot.

I pet my cats.

I count my kids’ fish every day because one time I stopped and then one disappeared and I know the other ones had to watch it decay.

I felt bad for the surviving fish even though they probably ate him.

I give baths and I do a lot of laundry.

When I was 23 I applied for a job at a dairy farm. It was in the middle of Pennsylvania. It was old school, not one of those big industrial factory farms where cows are treated like cogs in a milk machine. I’d spent my teens working in the food industry. I enjoyed waiting tables. But then I graduated with a college degree and did what one does with a degree: I got a job in an office with air conditioning and windows that don’t open. The kind of job that doesn’t require the punctuation of a hot shower.

The farm didn’t hire me. I was turned down because they wanted someone who had “physically reached into a laboring cow and helped deliver a calf.”

I do not have that on my resume. I didn’t have it on my resume at age 23. I still don’t at age 42. I will likely die not having that on my resume.

But I can’t imagine a mind wandering too much with both hands inside of a cow.

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