Gee, I’m tired of writing posts like this. It’s a sign of the times I’m living in that it’s rare I get to write a ‘normal’ post, or idly discuss a theme. That’s all I want to do, but life keeps getting in the way. That’s the problem. Life keeps getting in the way of my life. I live in extremis. Nothing is normal.
The last few days have been days of great reflection. On Monday I got the news I didn’t want to hear. For reasons I still don’t understand I was informed that I had missed out on the job I so hoped for. I was told that they would not be proceeding with my application, by someone who knew no more than that. I was stunned, and then something close to distraught.
I had been confident. I’m always wary of getting too confident. That’s the short-cut to disappointment, but this time there seemed reasonable cause for confidence. I got the news and everything fell apart. I had set myself some chores, but I could no longer get my head around them. I gave up on the effort. I’d been hit for six and there was no fighting it.
I don’t believe in self-pity, not just because it’s pathetic, but mostly it’s because it’s pointless. It’s one of the whips I drive myself forward with: don’t be sorry for yourself, it could be worse, and for many it is. Don’t believe you’re entitled. Don’t believe things will just happen for you. Do, act, move.
There’s a caveat to that though. Regardless of my attitude, I’m not immune to common emotion. I feel it as much as anyone and, these days, maybe more. I think it’s unwise to bottle that up inside. You need to grieve, even if it’s just for a lost job. And anyway, your feelings dictate a response.
When things like this happen I cut myself a break, which amounts to wallow today, be over it tomorrow…
On Monday I took a half bottle of good Muscat from my liquor cabinet, a wedge of brie from the fridge, and set about devouring the two of them laying on the couch while I watched The Walking Dead.
That was Monday. Tuesday I had to get back into it. That had been the last throw of the dice when it came to a ‘real’ job. So be it. I reflected that it was likely that I would have missed out probably even if I had of progressed further; and in any case I was no worse off now than a few weeks ago when I had no conception of the role. Nothing really has changed – except my plans.
I had a phone interview Tuesday for another role which went well. I was required to do some further testing after that, in which I scored 94%. I was very enthusiastically invited back for a formal interview next Tuesday. That was encouraging, though it’s only a customer service role that doesn’t begin until January. It’s something.
To some degree it appeared that I had recovered some lost ground. I had some modest momentum going my way. It need not be all disaster.
I’ve thought about it since. You get so caught up in the need to survive that you forget to live. That’s okay for a while, but you can’t ‘live’ like that for too long if you hope to be happy.
For 6 months I had a job this year that paid me barely enough. Each month the rent was a challenge, met only by forgoing other things. I had little more than one meal a day. I didn’t go out anywhere. I couldn’t buy clothes. Takeaway coffee was off the agenda. Takeaway food – a treat – never happened. I stopped reading the newspaper because I couldn’t afford to buy it. I sat at home.
Even so, there were commitments I couldn’t meet, and have been accruing ever since.
What if someone told me that I could live like that for the rest of my life? Would I take that?
Perhaps that’s the choice I face now, at best. The job I’m interviewing for next week is similar, and will pay about the same. It means incessant struggle and little joy.
This is not for me. I’ve always believed so extravagantly in the need to live life to the full, and to fulfil your intellectual, spiritual and emotional self. What’s the point of living in misery?
Of course, reality applies it’s gravitational force. It’s not as simple as wishing for something. As I said, life intrudes. But that’s fine – that’s the challenge. That’s what gives life purpose and meaning – to aim for something, and to overcome challenges to get there.
That’s my challenge now. I don’t want to life out my life like that. It’s not for H to eke out an existence. Fucked if I want to just scrape by. So okay, that sounds like hubris, but it goes far deeper than that.
Imagine each of you are carried along by elements that seem invisible, but which are essential for your happiness if you get them right.
One of those is your life culture – the things you do and love, the patterns and habits, the beers you like, the friends you have, the expectations and plans, the rituals and cherished pleasures. It’s the insignificant infrastructure you build to contain your life, which yet affords so much modest pleasure.
Let’s call the other your life purpose – that sounds grand, but it needn’t be. It’s what you want to do with what you’ve got. You’ve got inclinations, talents, interests, and you want to convert them into something that is meaningful for you. Your career may not incorporate all of these – most don’t – but at least, hopefully, you have the experience of contributing something of yours to your chosen job. Bit of luck you feel fulfilled.
It’s been years since either life culture or purpose have applied in my life. As already explained, there’s little remaining of the simple life culture I once had. There’s no fun in my life whatsoever, and no comfort. I live day to day.
As for purpose, well perhaps that’s even tougher for me. I don’t know what I’m meant to be, but I know what I can be – and I used to take such pleasure from hopping to it. I’m smart, experienced, capable. I’ve had some mega jobs. I’ve always taken such pride and meaning from what I could do, and I was always someone striving for more because that’s the stuff of life.
For most of the last 3 years I’ve done nothing. The only job I had was answering phones, and that’s the potential job again.
I’m not being precious. This is not hubris. All of this goes directly to who you are as person. It goes to identity. My identity is shot, and perhaps I have to accept that as the inevitable turning of fate – except I’m unwilling to accept such a meaningless existence. I can’t shrink myself and be happy.
I’ve known the basics of this for a while, which is why I thought to re-invent myself. Don’t be less, just different. I applied for a proof reading job a few weeks ago which I knew I could do well at, and possibly enjoy. And it suggested another direction I could go in. That hasn’t happened, and probably won’t.
There is training I could do perhaps, but I can’t afford it, and seemingly there is no agency who can help me with that. I have no money, and with that, little wherewithal. I could re-invent myself, but how? I’m stuck.
What am I saying? I’m saying I can’t spend the rest of my life doing customer service. I don’t want to survive. I want to live.
What does that mean? It means I might have to make some sacrifices. Should I get this role I’ll take it, but only as long as I need to. It means I have to be bold, and take risks. It means I have to be prepared to be homeless. It may mean I finally declare myself bankrupt.
I’d rather be on the road and living something of life than sitting in a room all day to return to a home without joy. I need to be me, or at least try to be.
I can’t let things go. There are courses I’ve identified as being useful to me, but which I’ve been unable to do because I cannot afford. All this time they’ve been teasing me. I think I have to do one, which means borrowing the money to do it. That will be hard, and maybe impossible, but I can’t let that possibility go.
Otherwise whatever I do will be temporary. I’m not making a career in customer service. Part of my purpose or culture is to strive. That’s me, that’s my identity. I have to overcome, have to keep trying.
Tell you, if I didn’t have my writing I’d be in a really bad way. That, at least, is mine.