Self portrait, with a headache.
Here is what I think.
I think that we should be able to adapt our pace to our monthly cycles.
I think that on days like today when everything within me was crying out for quiet, retreat, softness and nuturing - I should not have to go and meet the Chief of Police, the Head of National Security and the Governor to discuss drug trafficking, death threats and the need to reinforce the Afghan National Police in Ghor.
I think that we should resurrect some of the cultural traditions that acknowledge the value of responding to our bodies' natural cycles and taking time to rest, to reach inward and to renew.
I most certainly do not think that this should translate into discriminatory practices or imposed exile.
But I do think that there are periods for letting the seed lie, quietly, in the ground. There are times for absorbing the goodness of the sun. There are moments in which active work is not the best path. There are moments for resting, for letting be, for awaiting.
My job takes no account of these possibilities. I am required to be always "on". I must be always ready for action.
In my 20 years (some days it feels endless) experience in the work environment, I have seen that it not only does not take account of the regular monthly cycle of my body, it also ignores the reality that our general productivity goes in cycles.
The "western" work ethic takes no account of the observed phenomenon that the harvest of outputs sometimes follows periods during which it seems nothing is being accomplished.
Sometimes I simply can't seem to get myself moving. I am a highly motivated, highly disciplined worker, so if I am fair on myself I can say with some confidence that this is not due to laziness or a lack of focus. No, on reflection, I think that every project has it's periods of gestation. Every process has times when the seed has to be left in the ground for a quiet, sunny moment.
But more than all that, today my body was crying out to be allowed to stay in a quiet, safe place. I had no choice but to push it out into the world of corruption and drug-running and threats of violence. It was not a happy day.
But I got through it.
Who knows, maybe I even achieved something important today. Right now it seems unlikely. But these things often come at unexpected moments.
Next month, I promise myself a day on the couch.