Sunday, May 02, 2004

Sunday Meditation edition, Issue 5: The Mime in the Box

Have you ever felt corralled into a situation you didn't understand? We plan our lives as if we can know what is going to happen. When my father passed away after a tragic car accident last year, he had been talking a lot about his mortality before his death. I do not believe that he had foreknowledge of his death, but certainly he had been anxious because his own father had died at approximately the same age and the introspection had made him contemplate the ending of his own tenure here on this earth.

At the time, I didn't pay much attention to my oldman's concerns to my shame. I told him I'd do whatever he asked of me if he should pass, figuring that with today's life expectancies it could easily be well over a decade before he punched his final ticket and went to the pearly gates. He did go to the pearly gates. My father wasn't a saint, sometimes he was truly obnoxious, but he was a good man. He was a good man because placed under severe pressures he didn't even waver once in doing the right thing. It was a quality that I took completely for granted in his life, and grew to even notice only after his passing.

However as I contemplate my own life I don't know where it's taking me really. I don't mean that in a passive sense. I have plans, I have hopes, I am looking for another job and a chance to start over. Why? Education budget cuts. There's another round of them coming down the pipeline and I've survived three rounds already. I figure I better have an escape plan this time around. So far I've been lucky, but I'd rather be good.

In addition, this job teaching physics at a university has been fun but it's not taking me anywhere. It's a dead end job careerwise, something that has made itself apparent to me because of the difficulty in getting ahead. You know you need to try something else when you can't get any traction.

So what to do? My first impulse is to start looking for a job in the big-city of Chicago. I've got a friend there, and it's closer to where my mother lives, and maybe I could get a job at a community college. Then it's retraining, etc. One of the ironies of my life is that my expertise and experience far outstrips my resume, and getting a new set of credentials might be handy in starting over again. To be frank, I don't know what I'd do - become a cop, a PI, a paralegal, hell maybe even try to pass the bar and become a lawyer. The last may seem odd but with a graduate science degree and a law degree it could make a potent combination for being a patent and trademark lawyer, since most lawyer's don't have a strong science background.

My point is that I don't know. I know some things that I want to try. However like the woman I asked out tonight things could go bust pretty easily. Don't worry, she let me down easy and my ego remains intact. Nevertheless the word 'friend' slipped into her conversation even as she invited me to see her again. Meaning I'm cool enough to hang around with but not cool enough to date. I'm not taking it personally, she was ten years younger than me, which is the largest age gap I've ever tried for but while I try to stay fit the simple fact is that I'm not rich though she seemed to find me charming and I'm average looking so average looking and charming but not rich doesn't add up to getting the go-ahead in this case.

So I'm not terribly disappointed, just minorly. However my point in bringing this up is that life is like asking that girl out. You gotta try or you'll never know, but sometimes for reasons totally out of your control - maybe she wasn't interested in a serious relationship, maybe she already was in one I didn't know about - that would lead to her acting as if she was flattered but gently turning me down all the same. My instincts are good enough to tell she wasn't insulted by my overture, but alas I didn't succeed either.

So right now I feel a lot of inner turmoil. My life is rather like that girl. I'm going to ask her for a whirl, and unfortunately I have a bad feeling she's going to for whatever reason say no.

On the other hand, unplanned things happen like my dad passing. No one could have anticipated him dying in a freak accident from someone else losing control and crossing the median strip to ram him almost straight head on.

Cripes, my oldman just wanted to drive by his old workplace one last time before he moved out of the area after they'd put him out to pasture. Then WHAAAM!!! A good man dead and nothing to show for it.

It seems senseless almost. In a similar way other things have popped into my life, seemingly out of the blue, while the planned things even when they turn out okay are often lacking the sizzle of spontaneity. It's tough to figure out what "you should do".

Forget about what you want to do, there's some sort of freaky tango to this life like an improvised dance that you have to learn to two-step or box-step to in order to ride the wave and synergize with it. Only then can you get it to judo throw you into someplace good.

Stubborn guys like me, we try to forge our way through life out of sheer will and determination. However it doesn't do much good. Life will throw you a loop to get you to fall in the direction you were "meant" to go.

So I had this crazy dream last night. In the dream I was in my house. I was in the house, and outside anyone who tried to get near was shocked like by an electric fence. So no one could get to me. However I was waiting for an Emperor. In the dream, it was foretold by long ago events (that I saw in weird sort of flashback) that this Emperor would come to me and that I was to wait for him.

Isn't that strange? I take it to mean that right now I need to try to stick it out, because the Ruler or governing influence of my life hasn't entered it yet. I think I need to wait for the Big Wave to come for me.

But this is crazy. I got bills to pay. I got to find a place to live after the end of July. I don't want to waste any more time. I don't want to get stuck out here without work and having to take some menial job just to make ends meet, and I don't want to believe that I am not in charge of my fate and that it all comes down to just waiting around until somebody or something comes to smack me in the face with what is supposed to happen to me.

That however is what I seem to be getting from my unconscious after struggling with the issue of should I find some way to take off. I guess whoever is in charge - God, chance, fate, a pimply kid on a console twitching a control stick, whoever - they just don't think it's time for me to budge yet because I can't seem to get traction on a bus out of here.

I don't know if you've ever seen a mime "trapped" inside invisible walls, but that's what I feel like now.

A humbling experience. That's my Sunday meditation. I'm the mime in the box unable to get out!


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