I am in hole, in the dirt. Standing in a pool of water, past my ankles in mud. A spade in my hand I have been charged with the great task of removing the mud from the water and the water from the hole in the dirt where I am. A large thug of a man screams obscenities nearby. Sometimes words are directed at me, sometimes at himself, sometimes at the mud and the water, sometimes at the entire world itself. He does nothing but yell, no shovel in his hand.
In the months I have know this man, I have tried to assuage his ranting. Sometimes matching his vulgarity, sometimes acquiescing his ravings, sometimes exchanging pleasantries, sometimes affecting interest in his mundane existence. Now I do my best to ignore him completely.
Snow is falling and I am very wet. The mud I shovel out soon finds it’s way back inside my puddle. Though, little by little, I am winning this fight. What at first seemed a futile task was really only a very dreary and difficult one. More suited to convicts or robots, but altogether much easier and more pleasant than blocking out the venom thrown from the mouth of the mad carpenter.
Chekhov believed hard work and labor was key to our redemption. All I have seen is how it makes men angry. With anger so strong it swells into pride. Pride in the derision of what little peace might be found in the completion of nearly futile and certainly meaningless job, done.