I want to talk to you about the concept of a week (and the reasons I hate it). Here’s why:
My publisher, Civil Coping Mechanisms, has a new project called “7 Days of Coping.” The concept is that, during the first seven days of each month, a new author posts on the topic of “coping” (or anything connected to that idea, interpreted as broadly as that author prefers). I’m excited to have been asked to take part in the second iteration, happening now in the first week of July (Alexandra Naughton got things started last month, setting the bar high). For the next few days (well, seven to be exact), I’ll be “coping” with the idea of trying to say anything reasonable at all about what people cope with in life and how they manage to do so. I consider myself a terrible judge of human behavior and am wildly inept at being a person myself, so we’ll just have to see how this goes.
One way I deal with my own ineptitude is by approaching things as methodically as possible (and, of course, another more common and “natural” way I deal with ineptitude is by approaching things in a state of total disarray and abandon, flailing about and tripping over myself, but today I’m going methodical). I often entertain and act upon the entirely illogical notion that if we break something down into small enough parts, or into a finite number of boxes, then we can address them one at a time, fully and with care. This thinking is, by and large, bullshit. But sometimes I need bullshit to do anything. To move, at all. To get out of bed. Take a step. Eat. So this is the bullshit I’ve chosen for today: to believe the lie that addressing the small parts of something can help us conceive of and take control of the whole. In that delusional spirit, I’d like to address the first portion of my assignment: “7 days” — or a week.
I am of the opinion that the week is a useless, foolish, and absurd unit of time. It’s the worst.
Yet somehow, the week is also immensely popular. Like: it’s up there (I think we can all agree) among the most popular units of time available. People the world over employ the week as a system of time management and as a guiding force in their lives. When you wake up and think, “ahhh, it’s Monday,” so do a few billion other people. It is pretty much everywhere. In the realm of useless, arbitrary things (which the week fits easily into), that’s a real accomplishment. I can hardly think of a more popular or universally accepted bit of total nonsense. To that end, I respect the week, for its sheer audacity. A king among pointless things.