It feels like I’m very quickly approaching a fork in the road. In about 4 weeks’ time I finish up my current job. Obviously I am trying to get another job to go to, and preferably one plying my old trade, but push comes to shove practically anything will do. If some variation on that occurs then life goes on, at least in the short-term. But what if it doesn’t?
That’s the prospect I must face. Potentially that would be a disastrous outcome. Left unmitigated it could be the end of me. I must consider my options then, and look beyond the standard platitudes and conventional options. This is the hard place I find myself in.
It’s hard because it’s scary. I do my work, I carry on outwardly as ever before, but I can feel the pressure mount. It’s not something I can leave to chance, but it’s hard to know which way is the right way.
What I do know is that if this is the way to be then the sooner I accept it the better. There’s an argument for triage. With so much riding on things, why not just patch things up sufficiently to get by in the here and now. I’ll take that option if I’ve got nothing better, but I’m wary that with patch up jobs you never get around to the permanent fix (if such a thing exists). I don’t want to spend the rest of my life just getting by.
Right now my focus is on surviving this crisis, but the longer term consideration is identifying a reasonable and sustainable way of living. If it means giving up on some of the things I’ve identified myself with then so be it, but there must be something to replace them. It’s no life if you keep removing things from it without ever adding anything back. Survival is an imperative, but life is about more than merely surviving.
The question is then: do I need to reinvent myself? Do I need to take myself off somewhere else? What can I do to get by which will also satisfy me spiritually?
There are practical needs, but that spiritual dimension can’t be underestimated. Whatever the solution is, it must encompass that also. I need sustenance for the soul.
That’s a more difficult proposition, and especially for someone like me. I’ve always had great expectations. I’ve ridden them pretty hard, and over the journey enjoyed the quest to meet them. They’re not targets though – you don’t just achieve them and tick them off. They represent ways of being, which never ends. Now I recognise the reality that I may need to revise some of those expectations, but there are many essential for my spiritual health.
For the last 6 months I’ve been working in a mechanical role that requires little thought and fuck all initiative. It’s narrow and mindless in the literal sense. I’ve set aside any of my high-minded objections to such work and knuckled down to it. I’ve managed that quite well, intrigued by the initial novelty and accepting the fact that needs must.
On Tuesday I interviewed for a similar role in the city. It represented my back-up plan, and the thought of working back in the city was fun. I went through the necessary motions and that night sitting on my couch had a bit of a tanty.
Yes, I needed a job, and that would cover me for a while (but had the pervasive sense that it wouldn’t happen), but going back into the same mindless work I’ve been doing felt like some fundamental denial of self.
Look I’m smart and more than capable of thinking for myself. Despite everything I retain a modicum of confidence, still have drive, ambition and unbounded initiative. I’m no shrinking violent, even still, I’m willing to take things on, do, act, create. I’ll take responsibility. FFS, I’ve got big hairy balls. And here I am answering phones.
Put aside your judgement. This is not an absence of humility – I’m grateful for the opportunity to work. It’s not hubris. This is simply who – or what – I am. This is a question of existentialism.
So many of the things I am have been suppressed these months past. That’s been a necessary requirement of getting the job done and surviving into the next day, week, month. If necessary I’ll continue to do that – but it comes at a cost, and it’s not something I can do indefinitely. On Tuesday night the prospect of forever sitting in a call centre somewhere seemed like a vision of hell, and an utter negation of everything I’ve been, and remain.
I’ve muted myself, by necessity. The energy and drive that regenerates every day has instead gone to waste (though not without futile efforts to engage with the business). I’ve stuffed myself in that box every day without complaint and done the job asked of me, again without complaint, and with a level of responsibility. I’ve set aside my ambitions and natural inclinations. I’ve gone from being an alpha male to acting out a charlie male. All of it necessary, but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life squeezing into a box too small for my dimensions.
This is the question I need to resolve. Whatever solution I find it must be true to my identity. It must allow me to express myself. I don’t want to act a part, and certainly not a part smaller than what I am. Sure, I appreciate that I might need to compromise and abbreviate in some areas, and, well, shit happens. But only so much. If I’m not me then I’m not me. And that’s all I want – to be myself as much as I can be.
That’s where I’m at. I’ll take that customer service job if I have to, but must look beyond that. If that doesn’t happen then there has to be another way. If I can’t go back to what I did before – the ideal scenario – then I must look elsewhere to what I can become.
In the short-term, survive. In the long-term, adjust.