Me versus The Grind

Sign Up For Our FREE Daily eNews!

messages 0 3
A reminder that I’ve conquered “the Grind.”

grazianoThe other morning, while getting into my car— loading my book bag and my coffee mug and my own lethargic slab of flesh into the front seat—I noticed something that I generally overlook: daylight.

It was the end of February, and it occurred to me that for the first time since late autumn I was not driving to work in complete darkness then returning in the evening to either waning daylight or a second infusion. 

For a moment, standing in the snow I neglected to shovel from my driveway, I experienced something that resembled joy—however ephemeral—at the sight of daylight. But my joy passed when I remembered the opponent I would be facing for the next two months.

Anyone who works in education knows what I’m talking about. I’m talking about The Grind, the period between March and April where classes run for weeks on end without a day off, where morale slacks for students and staff alike, where the word “interminable” becomes a character snickering in the back of class.

Now, I realize that many people who aren’t educators and bemoan the educators’ “cushy” work schedules, probably just gave me the metaphorical middle finger—those who are slightly more demonstrative may have faithfully executed the gesture at the screen.

But we all understand The Grind in our own lives. In fact, most of our lives are a series of Grinds, or the tedium that Albert Camus refers to as man’s absurd condition. 

For most of us—at least those of us who need to work full-time jobs because we’re not independently wealthy—our lives consist largely of Grinds, the monotonies of day-to-day life and labor that we willfully submit ourselves to suffering through as a means of surivival.

Eventually, after we’ve suffered through decades of Grinds and retire, we might experience a few years of relative tranquility before we go gently into that good night.    

Does this idea bum you out? It shouldn’t. 

On my right arm, I tattooed the following words from Camus’ essay “The Myth of Sisyphus”: “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” 

I won’t bore you with a synopsis [1], and if you’re unfamiliar with the story of Sisyphus—the guy who was sentenced to push a rock up a hill for all of eternity—the allegory might not make a ton of sense, but I guarantee you don’t need to understand the allegory to understand suffering, Grinds and our absurd condition. 

The tattoo is a daily reminder to me that while my condition on earth may be absurd, it’s ultimately up to me what I decide to make of it. By acknowledging this absurdity, I can choose to embrace the Grinds, laugh at them, scorn them, whatever it takes to carve out my own meaning and find that elusive happiness.

In this sense, I’ve conquered The Grind.

And sometimes, with my shoulder pressed to the boulder, maybe—just maybe—I’ll stop and notice the daylight.   

___________________

[1] If you have 10 minutes, this video serves as an adequate primer for the text.

Subscribe Now and Never Miss Another Thing!

About this Author

Nathan Graziano

Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester with his wife and kids. He's the author of nine collections of fiction and poetry. His most recent book, Born on Good Friday was published by Roadside Press in 2023. He's a high school teacher and freelance writer, and in his free time, he writes bios about himself in the third person. For more information, visit his website: http://www.nathangraziano.com