Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Wan Downslide of the Soul

So here it is, Thursday. One would think that I would be more excited - after all, we've entered the downhill side of the week, we made it through Wednesday, and there are only two workdays left (in a four day work week, no less) until the weekend.

One would think.

Part of this is simply due to the time at work - it's my cycle to work late, so I'm spending 10.5 hours a day work plus the commute time so it easily becomes 12 hours a day, so by the time I get home, have dinner with An Teaglach, put Na Clann to bed, my energy is low. Things I would like to finish or even do seem inevitably to fall off my list.

Another thing that I think is impacting me is the follow-on that always seems to come after I sit down for a goal setting/life improvement thinking session. I walk away from those with great energy and great thoughts, only to get slammed by the reality of my life (and in this case, an extra heaping of work). It seems that every time I do this, I crawl home that evening almost in tears, painfully aware of the huge gap between anything that I would like to accomplish and the reality of my life as it is. The mental discussion with myself then slides one of two ways: either I am foolish to perform those kind of activities based on the realities of life (24 hours in a day, work at least 8, need to sleep at least 7) or I am a failure because I can't do those things so therefore I must lack the will to do them. This will again somehow end in tears and frustration at my life.

The sort of surprising thing that happened yesterday was the thought "Let's just leave it all. Just pick up and go."

A surprising and not altogether happy thought - but it brings into vivid belief for myself the "Mid-Life crisis", that time culturally speaking for American males that they see to go off the deep end, seeking a lifestyle of youth or even something extremely risky or different. Why?

If they are in a version of the same situation as I (and I suspect many of them are), they simply feel trapped by the lives they are in. They've reached the beginning of what are typically the prime earning years, usually are well ensconced in their marital and child rearing relationships, and have many of the accouterments of having worked for years - but come to the screeching realization that the life they have is probably now the life they will ever have, and the thought of another 20 years of living in the same mold is suddenly revealed for the long tunnel it really is.

And so the urge to find something completely new and different, live differently, live without responsibilities at time when they seem oppressively bearing down on the soul of the youth inside of them who was a poet or a writer or an explorer, a desire to taste again (for some length of time) the excitement of discovery or living extemparenously or doing what one wants to do -instead of the rigid schedule, unchanging responsibilities, and drab realities of life.

In their heart of hearts, maybe they grasp that the promise is not there, that shucking large portions of a life they've built for 20 years is neither as simple or as rewarding as it appears and that the damage done by living for themselves is brutal to those around them and probably does not deliver what they are hoping for.


But sitting in the car, commuting in the dark for the umpteenth time to a career of shuffling papers without impact, feeling trapped by the life one is in without the hope that writing a series of "100 things to do before I die" will make difference doesn't really seem to be a viable option either.


  1. A couple of thoughts as I know we have talked about this many times in our conversations:

    1. I think if most people were being honest we all feel like this at times and not matter what industry you are in or job title, their are time when it does indeed feel like we are just "moving papers around".
    2. I think we as a society have falling into believing that things such as Midlife crises or Teenage rebellion are things that are mandatory and everyone must go through them. I was reminded a few months back that neither of these are Biblical and we have as a society just accepted them as truth.
    3. I would challenge you as I have in the past that maybe the reason you are at your current job or industry isn't to necessarity accomplish things on paper as strange as that sounds. Maybe you are there for a different reason. How can you be an influence and as an example to those who you interact with on a daily basis. This can maybe help you adjust your thought process and attitude away from the tasks..just a thought.

  2. Hmmm. Let me take them in order:

    1) Yes, that's probably true. I guess I always have that visual in mind from my last company where the papers were literally packed up, put into boxes, and shipped off to a warehouse somewhere. It's hard to become motivated when you know in your heart of hearts that this is where all your effort and time are going. I sometimes look at the design binders at work, realizing how much time and effort was put into something that is nothing now.

    2) I don't know that I've ever considering those things mandatory, but just because something is not mandatory doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. I think it's fair to say that at some point some portion of people question how they got where they are and wonder about that decisions that they made. The difficulty come when some subpopulation of that group makes the decision to act out on those considerations in ways that are obviate their responsibilities and damage the relationships of those around them.

    3) Yes, you've brought that up more than once. The reality is that there are two things that are going on at any job, the responsibilities of the job and the interactions of the job. The difficulty comes when the responsiblities create such stress levels (and ethical difficulties in some cases) that it impacts the interactions.

    The other aspect is the sense that I simply get tired of being unhappy so much of the time. It's one thing to say "Be joyful", it's another thing to work in an environment where you're going so fast and expected to do so much and where your victories are not noticed but your failures are, that the concept of being happy or joyful is a form of emotional suicide. I accept that happiness is neither promised nor guaranteed, but being in an environment which so often makes it a distant dream makes the concept of digging deep within myself to overlook the circumstances for a potential personal impact a bit burdensome.


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