Today I started my new job. It’s been a long time since I’ve had an actualy punch-the-clock type job where I’m expected to show up for a certain time and work a certain number of hours regardless of how much work there is to do. Alienation is a term used to describe the separation of people from the product of their labour, that is paying people for their time to do repetitive work that is part of a larger process, such that each person never actually produces a final product. This is my new job: doing a fairly mindless set of tasks, over and over, and leaving when the clock says I’ve been there long enough, even though the job is never done, and never will be. The same tasks will be waiting for me the next time I punch in.
Not that I’m complaining – it will be relatively mindless and somewhat meditative work that shouldn’t drain me so that I will still have energy to focus on what matters to me: my research, training my dogs, my efforts around sustainable eating and living and so on. Still, part of me feels like I just took a giant step backwards in my life. Back to working for minimum wage, back to doing a job I did 20 years ago. The three university degrees and decade of high profile work experience I have gained in the interim seem all for naught…
By the end of the day, which was a training shift, I was pretty drained regardless (or perhaps because) of the mindlessness. So I opted out of taking the dogs to the farm and just spent some quiet time at home. Eventually I had to exercise the dogs, so I took each one out individually and spent some time with them. I started with Mira and did some basic obedience, then some foundation agility (1-jump stuff, 2×2 weaves, shadow handling). I did similar work with Hannah, then took Ross for a very, very long walk with a good friend of mine. It was a perfect evening and we walked in the cool, early fall air for close to 2 hours. I think I am going to need to do a lot of meditating in the next little while to try and figure out what I should be doing with my life. The impending loss of the sheep, the inability to find a good job, the moving away of a number of good friends, and a few other things are all pointing to major change in my life. But to what? And where? Hopefully it will all become clear soon.
As for the dogs, it became quite clear when working with Mira that I still don’t have a good foundation on her. How shameful! She’s nearly two. I couldn’t put her in a down-stay while I set up the jump, for example. She kept popping up the second I walked away from her. Mira has always been a dog who eschews rules and I should be a lot more black and white with her. I really should put her on Ruff Love, in fact, but there’s something about the freeness of her spirit that I actually enjoy, as much as it can be a pain the ass. She doesn’t cause any trouble (most of the time), so really there’s no harm done. And the amount of energy it takes to get her to be precise is more than I care to expend. Mira embodies the essence of ‘shaping chaos.’
Interestingly, Mira wasn’t that keen on doing the agility work, but Hannah was over the moon. I haven’t seen her this excited in a while, including around sheep. If I wasn’t faced with loosing sheep access any day now, I’d take a break for a bit and do agility with her. She’s clearly showing me to be bored with sheep training and I think needs a break. I suspect she is getting bored because the training we are doing really has no purpose. I mean, how can you find inspiration driving sheep around construction cones? The dogs seem to clearly know the difference between practice and real work, and we don’t ever do any real work. The only thing we do with any purpose is separate out the working group to train on. Everything else is an exercise. I wonder if that’s a little like alienation for sheepdogs.
I need to write an update on Ross as I haven’t mentione him in a while, mostly because he’s doing great so there’s nothing urging me to write. I’ll catch up on him possibly tomorrow if I have time.