I don’t know if anyone from the outside can really understand the range of emotions I experience in my situation. There’s pressure, stress, worry almost constantly wondering how I’m going to survive week to week, buy food, pay the rent, and so on. They’re passive, but very real concerns, but there are things I must constantly deal with. For example – and no-one knows this – I would get on average 2-3 calls a day from people trying to get money out of me (and about 6-8 call a day lately). That’s annoying and stressful too, but it also allows me to blow off steam. I can’t give them anything because I’ve not got anything to give, and little to promise. They can wheedle and threaten all they like but there’s not much I can do about it. “When you figure out a way to get blood out of a stone let me know,” I say, “then we can do business.”
That’s not to say I take it easily – it weighs heavily upon me, and has had another impact on my self-regard. I can’t help but feel faintly disreputable these days, and as if I don’t belong in such conversations. I always had a good reputation because I’m of that generation that took such responsibilities – and the expectations of others – seriously. I’d be aghast paying my rent late. Mostly I paid my bills on time, but when I didn’t it would only be by a few days because I was disorganised. I took it seriously as a responsibility, and still do, which is what makes it so hard when I can’t live up to that.
I was reminded of this the last few days. I had applied for a new home to move into and was conscious of the fact that I was now being scrutinised. I felt sick thinking about the nasty things they might dig up about me. I wanted to tell them that’s not really me. But now it is, now matter how I bluster.
All of this is by way of practical reactions to my situation. Life consumes a certain amount of capital, and when you scramble to earn that capital the emotions are very real and present.
There are other emotions that go to another aspect of self. On the one hand there is survival. On the other there is purpose and identity. They overlap, such as these thoughts of disrepute, but they’re not entirely connected.
Probably the biggest issue in terms of identity is my work. Circumstances mean that I am in a role well beneath my capabilities earning a subsistence wage. Subsistence or not I need that wage to survive, but I’m conscious all the time that not only can I do more, but perhaps I’m meant to do more – as if meant to be exists.
I feel like a classically trained actor whose career has degenerated to the point of doing pantomimes at the nearest Westfield shopping centre. One day he gets a call. He’s got a steady job doing panto’s, but he’s offered a short-term opportunity worth more financially, which is nice, but more importantly in a great role on a stage just off broadway.
Something stirs in him. It’s not the money, though of course it would be handy, it’s the thought of doing Shakespeare again say, in a role that really tests him, and before an audience who truly understand and appreciate the art.
His dilemma is simple: does he take on this role, short as it is, to pocket a bit extra cash and feel his possibility again? Or does he play it safe and continue to moulder in his secure role in a suburban pantomime?
Once more that’s the sort of dilemma I face, and feels very much a sliding doors moment.
I got a call yesterday from a consultant I’ve had a long-term relationship with who I respect greatly. He wanted to run a job by me. Initially 3-4 weeks scoping out the requirements for a client wanting to implement a new ERP. Dollars quoted was $1,000 a day – which is about six times more than I’m earning presently. After 3-4 weeks there might be the opportunity to stay on through the implementation phase – a good chance in my case, given my experience. No guarantees though, and even with 20 grand in my pocket after a month I could be out of a job for a year. And, by the way, the job’s in Bendigo.
I told him I’d think about it over the weekend.
Financially a quick 20 grand would allow me to pay a bunch of bills and get those callers off my back – and would allow me to live a bit better. For now. On top of that I would not only being something I know and like, but which potentially gets me back in the game. One thing could lead to another.
Against that is the risk. I have a job I hate, but it’s secure (they disallowed my application – last week – btw), and in the normal course of events it will become more. They seem to have marked me out, and better work and more money will come. And, how am I supposed to work in Bendigo when I have a dog and no car?
At this point I should say that at the same time yesterday I was approved for a rental property in Hampton. I have somewhere to go to. Throughout probably the last 18 months I have often thought about how I could change the game to suit me better. I always said I’d rather take a risk than be stuck for eternity in an existence I disliked. Often I pondered moving to the country and seeking cheaper living and different opportunities there.
What I’m saying is that an opportunity of sorts came up in the country – Bendigo – on the very day I was approved for a home in the city. A week ago I might have said yes, and moved up to Bendigo on the basis once there I could inveigle my way into a permanent job. But that was a week ago.
I don’t know if I’m making myself clear. There have been so many ifs, buts, and maybes, so many different possibilities and prospects, but over time circumstances have contrived particular outcomes. It seems now I’m stuck in Melbourne, and that’s no bad thing, but it closes off one possibility, and makes others more difficult – when if timing were different the whole scenario might have been flipped on its head.
I’m going to say no to him. It’s not just the risk, it’s the logistics – I have no-one to look after Rigby. I’ll say no and wonder what could have been, and mourn for that sense of self I forgo by saying no. Until the next opportunity – one day the answer has to be yes.