not the work

Natal’ja is sad.  She is sick and cant help around the commune and she feels uncomfortable not doing any work/quota for the housing and food she is receiving.

Natal’ja is Hawina’s best friend visiting from the Netherlands.  A gifted graphic designer and a soft enchanting personality.  I fell in love with her almost immediately when we met 15 years ago. She is visiting for a month.

Our conversation got a bit animated, i tried to explain that her presence and value to us is far more than just the work she does while she is with us. The support she provides for Hawina, the contribution she makes to the social atmosphere in Ta Chai (the residence she is staying in) and even the work she does which she does not count, like cleaning the bathroom is all important and valued by us.  I point out that when members of the community are sick, we take self determined sick hours until we are ready to work again. 

She is not buying any of this. The Calvinist inspired Dutch work ethic runs deep in her and she was reluctant to embrace these mushy contributions.  If she is not making hammocks or doing some other type of highly valued work, she will be worried that she is not carrying herweight .

When i sent her this post to read, a week had passed by and she admits she is understanding on a deeper level what i’ve shared with her. That despite being raised in a culture that emphasizes productivity, there are many ways we support and nurture our communities, that making a friend smile is as beneficial to the community as making a hammock.