Thursday, January 20, 2011

Two Sides of A Coin

"Two Davids" by David W. Landrum

Michaelangelo's David is too smooth and fair
and too Italian--too much like a boy
who'd stand with a mandolin beneath a stair
and serenade his girl; who would enjoy

good wine and food and music and would dress
in fashion, go disgusted to carnival,
study Castiglione and play chess,
greet friends at the rialto and the mall.

Coifed hair and slender build can't represent
the boy who shivered under naked stars
or sat nights by a watchfire, vigilant
for wolves, his legs and wrists circles with scars

from grappling with wild beasts, his hands calloused
from handling rocks and strong from hefting sheep
onto his shoulders when they were hurt or lost--
his nurture of the flock he had to keep.

Bernini, rather, caught the boy we see
in First Samuel: he grasps the leather sling,
fitting the stone in, aiming angrily
at blaspheming Goliath, tensed to fling

death at his forehead. The rough sheepskin pouch
that held the five smooth stones is crude and plain.
The zeal for God is etched into the crouch
of his body and he can hardly contain

his anger at the curses, at the scorn
the Philistine has flung against the host
of God. He frowns. Tomorrow Gath will mourn.
Goliath's pride will be an empty boast.

Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor is playing right now. I work in the office across from the Accounting Office, which has a giant window to the outside. The snow falls in a gazillion flakes, like grain being poured from a silo. The sky is a light gray, with the lone fir tree as a dark contrast, the only definite shape in the storm. 

I don't remember if I mentioned that this is Organize Julie's Life week... most likely because that has not happened yet! (Tonight?) My friend Maria e-mailed me that she was using colored tabs and they made her think of me. I miss that kind of organization. I am reminded of King David's life: that if one cannot have order in one's own soul, then order will not be in the family, and then the Kingdom. This is explains, perhaps, one reason why I write ever-expanding to-do lists, constantly scribbling another note, keeping excel spreadsheets of my work log, marking work things with my skinny golden yellow marker.

The snow puts everything into perspective. The snow makes the world look so clean, makes anything seem possible. I do not mind snow, but I do mind Cincinnatians' inability to cope with it. We get tons of snow every year, I just do not understand the fuss. All my younger siblings do not have school today, in anticipation of the storm to come. My college-aged siblings do and I, of course, am at work. (My little brother told me I look "professional," "very business-like" and "sassy" this morning in my suit. I am not sure where the last one came from, but it made me laugh!)

[Now playing: Aram Khachaturian's Masquerada, Suite from The Incidents, and Then: Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor]

I work for my family business. I technically started working here when I was 12, as most of my siblings did as well, give or take a few years. It is a double-edged sword. I like what I do, I'm good at it while still learning something new all the while, and I like helping my dad. I know he likes having me there, too, as another Robison in the office with a similar mindset towards work. I can see my job as more than work- it is what provides for my family, sends my siblings to school; his clients indirectly feed us week after week, keep our house warm, make sure our pets have a place to roam.

The downside, of course, is the view that someone is working for their family business because they have no where else to go. I do not like that presumption. My dad wanted me to start working for him right after college, so what did I do? I got two job offers before graduation. I know it's wrong to be proud of this, but I've always liked having choices. Motivation often comes from an unwillingness to succumb.

I am working on rejuvenating my eagerness toward marketing. I haven't lost it, but work can be trying and it makes me tired. My dad recently hired a new guy and while I was giving him my marketing spiel, he asked me why I wasn't in sales. I laughed, but it made me think about if I am really giving my all to my job. I decided I wasn't. I was giving just enough, and I'm capable of more. To do a job is more than to "do it": if you have hesitation and have an unwilling spirit, all your work is for naught.

[The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Paul Dukas- how appropriate!]

About a month or so ago, I re-read an excellent poem by Robert Frost called "Two Tramps in Mud Time." The speaker is a man chopping wood, and two tramps come along and want his task for pay. Thus begins an inner monologue of discerning to whom the task really belongs, ending thus:

Nothing on either side was said.
They knew they had but to stay their stay
And all their logic would fill my head:
As that I had no right to play
With what was another man's work for gain.
My right might be love but theirs was need.
And where the two exist in twain
Theirs was the better right--agreed.

But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes.

To work is to play, in many ways; I always felt that way about my classes, sheer joy coming out of learning. Writing papers was a constant exploration, as was writing articles. I've always been impressed by how good my parents are at their jobs and how much they love what they do. But they've shared with us kids that it isn't always daises and roses: to enjoy work means to put in the hours and make yourself the best at what you do. 

I am comforted by King David, that despite his failings and disobedience, he did receive his promised ending: his blood line was the one which God chose to produce his son. I am comforted by a faithful God and shamed by my mistrust in his will. I know this is all human nature, but my purpose currently lies in paperwork. I'm accepting that more and more. One day, my purpose will involve smelly diapers, and later, caring for my parents, and hopefully, publishing full-time. (Part-time is more than enough for now!) 

But really, who knows?

[Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, Op. 20]

Pax tecum! Happy Thursday friends.


  1. Just want to jump in and say I'm totally a Bernini fangirl. His David is definitely superior and you should see his Ecstasy of St. Theresa.

  2. When I was 21, I saw Michelangelo's David in person. He is beautiful, but lacks the emotion of Bernini. I am drawn to David as well as Saint Peter because even with their failings God chose them for important missions. It gives me hope.

  3. Beautiful post! I love your statement about the need for order in our souls before we can see that order around us. Very true!

    I also liked your comments about vocation. When I was younger it seemed like such a big task--now I realize the biggest task is not finding it, but rather giving it my all.