I don't have to get up in the morning and slaughter a couple of hundred animals before I go to bed again. I don't have to hold someone's heart in my hands, delicately suturing their life back together, knowing I might have to tell their loved ones if I fail. I am not charged with helping a country through a possible recession. I am not driving down a road in Afghanistan in an armoured patrol car. I am not racking and stacking 737s and 747s on a flight path into a busy airport. Basically I have indoor work with no heavy lifting.
As a child I always found the question, 'Which is heavier, a ton of lead or a ton of feathers?' interesting. Maybe it was because I couldn't imagine a ton of feathers. How many would that be? But I knew, in my under-developed but already acutely systematising brain that both weighed the same.
I ponder this today. Holding bars of lead I guess I would be able to say quite clearly that I was lifting my maximum. One more bar and I would drop the lot. Feathers are altogether more complex. Who could say that they had reached the point of maximum feather elevation?
So I am able to say that I have not got the time to do any extra jobs this week that will take more than one hour. No more lead can be lifted.
But my list of things to do is 45 items long. My filing is undone. My desk has at least ten notes on it. My in-tray is full of stuff that is important but not urgent. None of those jobs more than half an hour. Most five minutes or less.
An email feather flutters in. The head teacher of a local school is retiring this week. Could I pop in to say goodbye on Thursday? Sounds simple, but it's a 45 minute job. And the day suggested is my planned day off, already changed to accommodate a wedding rehearsal that could only happen on Friday, my regular day off. So I have to shift something, or renegotiate something, or phone and apologise that I can't come on the day everyone else has been invited. So it will be more than an hour when I've finished. And pondering it I have seized up. I had to write this to get unstuck.
Feathers. Just too damned heavy.