I listened with interest this morning as two CBC radio personalities agreed with one another that they have never got over the anxiety which accompanies Sunday evening and the prospect of Monday morning. As one reporter said, he was awake throughout the night wondering whether he had overslept, regularly checking the alarm clock to be sure that he got out of bed in time for his early morning appearance on the show. This, even after having done it for years. I found this all terribly encouraging, because it illustrated that I am not the only one in this world who obsesses about Monday mornings. And as hackneyed as it is to say it, the plague is distinctly peculiar to Monday mornings (especially rainy Monday mornings, as today), rather than any other day of the week. Once, however, I am back in the proverbial saddle, and the work week is under way, my discomfiture invariably dissipates quickly.
The penalty of Sunday evenings is the antithesis of Friday afternoons. By late Friday afternoon, it isn’t long before the mounting titillation of relaxation blossoms on Saturday, perhaps pushed along by pleasant weather or an out-door barbecue or a stimulating bicycle ride in the country. But, as I say, the process goes full-circle and returns with a resounding thud to the sobering vista of Monday morning. One has to ask whether retirement is the escape valve? On the other hand, so thoroughly unbraided do I become after a weekend’s indulgence in idle re-creation that I seriously doubt I would be happier avoiding the perils of Monday mornings. These are likely the words of a man whose life is almost inconsequential without the existential act of production. The use of diversion to escape from boredom is of limited value. One eventually needs to overcome the quiet struggle with the apparent meaninglessness of life by answering a need, in order to define the nature of one’s existence.
My passion for order and reassembling the fragmented pieces of my life usually begins on Monday morning by processing the pile of weekend credit card receipts. I say "process" because it isn’t merely a matter of stuffing them into an envelope to be addressed later when payment is due. Many of the receipts relate to more than gas charges, restaurant bills, groceries and household provisions; they further include items purchased for clothing, books, ornament and the like. These latter items I catalogue, so to speak, in an on-going inventory, maintained on an annual basis. It provides a bird’s eye view of where one’s money is going, and how it is that one rewards the labours of the previous week.
Of necessity, a reconstruction of one’s commercial undertakings involves addressing such communications, by fax, telephone or email, as have transpired over the previous two days or early Monday morning. Granted, the nature of my practice having changed, I am now less likely to be encumbered by matters screaming for attention. By the judicious application of discernment, I have largely been enabled to separate myself from matters which are overly taxing. I also like to think this delicate discrimination allows me to perform more promptly and adequately for those for whom I work. I consider it preposterous, for example, to listen to a recorded telephone message from a solicitor whom I have called that he will return the call within two business days. Something is seriously wrong with that business model as far as I am concerned, especially since I know from having dealt with very competent senior counsel at the larger firms that no such dalliance is touted.
Certainly the rigours of Monday morning involve acclimatizing oneself to the formation of one’s office. In plain terms, it is about putting oneself through the paces, getting back into the yoke, which needn’t be viewed as oppressive or burdensome, but rather as something representing a bond between different elements. Structure is oddly the liberating mechanism, the springboard for advancement and cultivation, something to do while waiting for Godot.
Anecdotes abound about people who die within minutes of retirement. I hardly think these entertaining accounts are persuasive. I think one must decide for oneself whether it is preferable to work or not, assuming one has the choice (and of course, if one doesn’t, there’s no issue). For me, the threat of tedium is real. It would be flattering myself undeservedly to suggest that there is enough going on between my ears to keep me amused for long without external stimuli. And I really have no interest in disproving the theory that doing nothing is the most difficult thing in the world, as I think it is indeed.