Saturday, April 05, 2008

discontent and sustenance

Join me on a (self-indulgent?) mini-trip of philosophical pining and discontent. Or don't, you won't hurt my feelings because I won't know one way or the other.

Some of this discontent may be influenced by my daughter's presence. She is a bright, moody, seeking, affectionate, bristly, wonderful human being. My conflict with her nature is, in significant part, a conflict with myself. She is a reminder of the dynamic tension with which I live. With which many people live, I assume.

It is easier for me to simply characterize periods of existential angst as normal and cyclical. And they are. But they can also be catalysts. And even at the ripe old age of 49, I can use the cyclical unrest to question and reevaluate my life and where I'm at. But, then what?

The problem, lately, is an old one. I don't want to feed my feeling of isolation, which is an unproductive trap, but there are times in the world of advertising/marketing that I feel alone in my loathing for all industry. Education, non-profits, corporations–it does not matter one whit in which field I've worked. There is a need, so my culture tells me, to sell shit to support ventures. And that which works, in all this scrambling for funding, advertising dollars, underwriting, etc., seems to target the most ignoble of human qualities. Vanity. Greed. Falseness. Insecurity. Guilt. Some ads aim at the higher qualities of human nature and, then, use those aspirations to sell you a car. A sandwich. Some insurance. I find it, so often, powerfully narrow and depressing. And isolating.

Advertising or marketing are the arenas in which a web animation designer is most readily employed. So here I am. Two mortgages and dreams. Don't get me wrong, I love, love, love my little conjoined plots of land and travel plans and my home. God, how I love my cracked, desperately-in-need-of-updating little home. I dream of a huge studio space, traveling to see family and foreign lands. Taking the woman I love to every major league baseball stadium just to see her smile. Donating money to organizations struggling to deal with catastrophic disaster and social fallout.

I hesitate to open this issue because I have a great dislike of talking about things and not doing anything about them. Don't tell me what you're going to do, do it. Don't over apologize for something, figure out how not to do it again. Don't spread your discontent like a rash all over your friends and readers, feel exorcised and go on to the next post all pithy and snarky. Not to mention that I'd rather not bore my friends. But this diary/journal thing is sometimes about less entertaining, unsettling issues. And it's, of course, my damn blag, so I get to expound. You get to close the browser window.

Spent this Saturday morning (after a clusterfucked work week) watching TED.com videos of Stephen Hawkings, Jill Bolte Taylor, Steven Pinker and Karen Armstrong. I hate, hate to weep. I do. I don't want pity or vulnerability. Or to expose my grief in any way that elicits a comfort me response. Besides crying makes me puffy and gives me a fucking headache. But here I was. Weeping for deeper meaning in my daily life. Jesus that sounds trite. I am no idealist. [I don't expect everyday to contain some kind of Bill Moyers epiphany...though I could probably talk with him everyday and get closer.] I just want my integrity to come home with me at the end of the day.

Work is about survival. It is about finding the middle ground between being a nomad, devoting the lion's share of your day in quest for food/shelter and the unrealistic goal of doing whatever you want and getting paid handsomely for it. Work is about satisfaction. Work is about other people and how your interactions enrich or detract or slide neutrally by in a place where you spend so much of your time. Work is about obtaining the means to do so many other things you love outside of the job. Ways to help those you love and do some good.

Right at this moment, work feels like an insignificant piece of a large, shallow, dangerous, phony machine. A philosophically bankrupt, omnivorous organism. And I am one cog of a million helping to propel and enrich a venture for which I have little respect.

Shit. I will feel better by Monday morning but I don't know how.

2 comments:

Menchuvian Candidate said...

3rd attempt here.

I empathize with a lot you've written, though our work situations differ.

X years ago a friend told me that I earned my place in the world through the friendship I gave. She was more than a tad on the egocentric side, so, yeah, she meant explicitly the friendship I gave to her, but whatever. It's a little hard to bear in a context where my husband wants a divorce, and I'm a little bit totally isolated, but overall, it's probably pretty much true.

All I can do, really, is to try to be like my father: get up every day, recognize a new start, and try again to be better, to try harder, to be more fully my ideal. And, yeah, sometimes that requires a lot of sex and ice cream.

Epiphenita said...

yes.
try to do better every day.
eat more ice cream.
have more sex.

isn't that in the bible somewhere?

see? i'm feeling better already.