The 28th day of every month is considered "payday" at the day job. Money is transferred from the corporate account to our own, and we're sent emails with links to outdated websites showing how much to expect in the bank. My colleagues tend to be pretty happy on this day, as it means bills can be paid and overtime efforts can be rewarded. Unfortunately, I do not share this same level of happiness. For most of the last three weeks, I've been able to get very little work done at the office due to various political battles, software battles, and network insecurity battles. More than this, the money I'm paid every month, which is a good deal more than I earned in the classroom, feels dirty.
Over the last few weeks I've written about my desire to escape the day to day, the summertime blahs, feeling blasé, and even working myself stupid. Heck, it's been a recurring theme on this site for nearly a decade! But these ideas are seldom far from my thoughts. Why is this?
I've been reading a number of books on psychology and motivation this year and a common, unspoken theme in just about every book is the fact that we are all ultimately in control of our emotional state. If we want to be happy, then we'll be happy. If we don't, then we won't. More than this is the idea that happiness is ultimately manufactured as a form of self-delusion to override our constant desire for "more". The people around us who are often smiling have learned this incredible skill, and the people who seem to frown incessantly have not. This second group is most certainly the category that I would fall into.
So what's the solution?
The more I read about how our mind apparently works, the more I'm surprised it works at all. We seem to build up an illusionary world around us in order to make sense of the universe and our place in it, but these convenient views are little more than smoke and mirrors. The people we surround ourselves with need to use similar illusions in order to maintain the grand ideas that we tell ourselves. One other crucial element is the verbal reinforcement of the illusion. Without this, doubt can begin to manifest itself in dangerous ways. Is this what I'm missing? Or is it something more fundamental, like physical community?
When I try to convey these questions to others, I'm often met with the "Buck up and grow a pair!" response that inspires so much nothingness. Just charging through something accomplishes nothing, and grow a pair of what? Testicles? Why would I want four of the things? Testosterone (or lack thereof) is not the reason for my disinterest in work or the asininity surrounding the various fiefdoms within corporate offices. Just the suggestion that one should do whatever this sentence is supposed to mean also goes to show that the listener is not at all empathetic with the speaker, or plain not listening. Either way, they are not the people we should be talking to.
And there are so many people like this …
So what is it that I think would make me happy? Even for a little while? A small list. Nothing crazy. I do live in a relatively safe part of the country and am doing the job I tried hard for 8 years to get. I have a lovely puppy and some good friends who live less than an hour away. But what I'm looking for is this:
- a comfortable home life
- self-agency at the day job
- a bit of pocket money every month
The work will be determining how to go about making these three things possible.