4 Comments

  1. V B

    I hadn’t thought of the term “scut work” in decades until I read this. But it made me think of a time much later when I encountered Elemore Morgan one day when walking on the campus. When I replied to his inqiry about how I was doing, I complained about how much time I was spending on plain old maintenance doing, in effect, scut work, although I didn’t use the term. “Haven’t you figured it out?,” he responded, “Life is 85% maintenance.” I have since decided he was actually wrong–as you get older, it gets to be more like 95% mainenance. But there does come a point when there is a peculiar satisfaction in maintenance. It gives a real sense of order in life.

    • Bookscrounger

      Man, I miss Elemore.

      I suspect you’re right. And we do derive satisfaction from odd things; when I think back on my embarrassments and failures, I still wince, but I also realize they are part of my canvas, my tapestry. They are my story, and I derive satisfaction from that, too. (For years I’ve thought about writing a biography of Sisyphus, and work in the Zen perspective. At the end he grows to love the rock and the work. Once that happens, he succeeds in getting the rock all the way to the top — and Olympus crumbles.)

      And with the kids, so much of it is scut work, but I know to hold on to it. So many times I force myself to read to the kids, or do other things with them. I’m tired, I don’t want to, but I do want to, because I know it won’t last. The kids just watched all three of the Toy Story movies, and I caught snippets of it. One of the things I didn’t catch when I saw the movies previously, is how much of the writers’ and animators’ own sense of loss was projected into the toys. As the toys become wistful and sad about their children growing up, you realize the people who made the movie were expressing their own sense of emptiness at the same things. For about a dozen years they are fonts of magic and wonder; for another dozen they are eructations of friction and rebellion; and then they are simply gone. If you get a second, go back and watch the scene & song ‘When She Loved Me‘ by Sarah McLachlan. It was all the more poignant when I realized that it’s also the parent’s song.

      • Dianne Bailey

        I know what you mean about the Toy Story stories Joe. The last one was very sad to me and it coincided with the time that our oldest was leaving the “nest”.
        I’m finding your “scut” work piece fascinating and will look forward to the finish of your book.
        Tell your wife if she’s still interested in learning Suzuki piano to give me a call.
        D. Bailey

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