Friday, November 26, 2010

"Responsible And Stuff"

I tell you, after reading the JFT for today, my first instinct is to tow the line and preach a little on the responsibility subject. How it important it is, the inner satisfaction it brings, the privilege of being sober and able to be responsible. Blah, blah, blah. Yak, yak, yak. Even to myself, as I imagine writing about it, I find my own voice sounding like one of Charlie Brown’s teachers. And if I'm bored with myself before I've even written anything down... well, bad sign. So instead, I'll start with all that and whatever else comes out, comes out.

One of my fellows talked recently about dreading work. He goes to bed each night, dreading the fact that when he wakes up he'll have to go in to work. I know exactly how he feels. I reminded him of how things used to be, the days when he wouldn't even bother to look for a job, much less hold one down. He works a sales job and gets frustrated, dislikes how so much of his time is spent convincing people he doesn't know to spend money they don't want to spend on things they don't really need. He's never said it like this, but I wonder if he feels like a con man. He tends to point to his character defect of laziness, but I wonder if there isn't some measure of his conscience at work as well. That’s the spiritual principle of Honesty happening, there.

I think, even though he hates his job, he does like having an income, and I understand that, too. These are relatively tough economic times. So many people hate their jobs, but are grateful to have them. Before I was laid-off, that was my refrain too: I am so grateful to have a job to hate. But even before I became unemployed, I wondered often about why it is that so many people hate their jobs. Why do so many people make their jobs their life? Some would argue with me that it's important to have a good work ethic. Personally, I think it's more important to lead a balanced life.

Sometimes, it seems to me that this whole culture is caught up in a bizarre notion of what it means to be happy. More is always the answer. If I work more, I'll get paid more, and then I can have more. More money, more things, more respect, etc. And the most obviously unhealthy thing about this, to me, is that it's a future-fuck. It's a focus on the future instead of an enjoyment of the now. How could people possibly focus on the now, anyway, when now is so miserable? It's only that focus on the future that allows people to get through the moment. It's okay to be unhappy now because I'll be happy 'someday'. It's a lie.

The moment--this moment, right now--is all we really have. As the old saying goes, tomorrow never comes.

Yeah, being responsible is important. I like paying my bills on time and actually really enjoy the fact that collection agencies aren't harassing me anymore. But our most ultimate responsibility is to ourselves. Nothing outside of us is going to make us satisfied, not money, not prestige, not a lover. There is a lot to be said for putting the time in, doing the hard work, and receiving our reward. But it's important, too, to not sacrifice the present for it.

The line between working towards something in the future and living in that future we're working towards is far easier to cross than we realize. And it doesn't apply just to work, either. I can't tell you how many times I've been in a bad relationship and chose not to leave because I was hoping it would 'get better'.

Our greatest responsibility is always to ourselves, where we really are--right now, right here. It's good to work towards a better future, just so long as we don't try to live in it before it's arrived.

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