Sometimes the universe sends us signals. You know what I mean and you see it all the time. There is that horrid Prius commercial that is so ubiquitous that I’m now nauseous when it airs. Clearly it was that man’s time to buy a Prius and change his life. Other times, the universe sends us false signals. On one unnamed TV show, the lead sees the same number over and over and over. Realizing it’s a sign, he engages is risky behavior centered on that number with disastrous results. (I’m sure many of you will binge the show later so I’ll keep the title covered. Hint: it is not Firefly, Game of Thrones or Real Housewives of Atlanta.)
Similarly, I’ve been a bit of a funk for a while. I’m not great at hiding that, and my four loyal readers know I often process my moods here. And by often, I mean about 10% of the time that I start to. I do edit myself a little and I really don’t want to turn this into a forum people avoid. No, not you Sir. I know you are here for the Ashley bashing, that is located here. But today, the fingers type, the words flow, and the Oxford Comma prevails. What is going on around me?
The commute and the attitudes around me in the office weigh heavy on my generally happy soul. For those of you that don’t know, I leave the house at 6am and return home generally after 6, too often towards 7. That’s 75-90 minutes in the morning and 2 hours on the way home after spending day in a cube where there is limited human interaction and too much of it revolves around not meeting hidden expectations and the constant implication that no one is working enough hours. Keep in mind that I am not a piecemeal factory worker or laborer (and both are fine, honorable jobs) – I think, I plan, I influence to gain results. There is no clock measuring my thoughts thinking & ideas. When a thought hits me and I work on it, it can be driving, doing dishes or at 3am coming out of a dream. I’m generally engaged 12-18 hours a day on what I work on. So why the ridiculous obsession over time?
Just because I’m paid hourly doesn’t mean I don’t put in lots of time that is not technically on the clock. Oh, and 40 hours a week is the absolute maximum. I once made the mistake of working 2 hours on a Sunday, because something came to me late on Friday, which I would need to act on early the next Monday. My hours didn’t exceed 40, but I was told in no uncertain terms that anything other than 8 per day, Monday through Friday would require advance approval. I keep forgetting that not everyone sees me as the adult I believe I am.
Every day for the last week and way too much for way too often, I keep hearing the seminal hard rock anthem “Closing Time” by Semisonic. (I looked for the sarcasm sans font, but couldn’t find it and I know WordPress does not feature it.) As silly as the song is about the hook up life at 2am, one phrase stands out.
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.
Is the universe trying to tell me to move on and find a new beginning, a new cubicle? When do I become too old to be attractive in the new economy of disposable workers? Are my experience and skills an unwanted commodity, the Filet-O-Fish of the work world? How heavy is the baggage that is my gray hair and wrinkles? Can I embrace the reality of my fading youth, yet still see that experience and wisdom are liabilities in my world? What is my place? Is there a new beginning to be sought?
And no, I’m not having a midlife crisis. But much weighs heavy. And I consider the adage about the grass being greener elsewhere and see my lawn turning brown due to drought based water restrictions. I’m not one to take the easy route. I’m not quitter. Of course I think about it all the time, but in the end I do the right thing, even when it’s the more difficult, arduous path. Maybe I should have been a mountain goat.
Today, I sat in traffic behind some unseen delay on the approach to the bridge. Of course I heard the song about the “last call for alcohol”. Seriously? People paid for that record? But then I realized that it was part of a shock and awe bombardment of sad, aching songs. Like a train wreck, I couldn’t turn away. Horrified at the sonic sneak attack on my already fragile emotional state, I embraced the sadness. For more than 30 minutes I sat, not hearing an uplifting note. 8 stations, making sure I paid attention. Of course I skipped over the Eagles and Journey, it is in my DNA.
There were songs about the break ups to come. And then the actual breaking up and the aftermath that follows – longing, regret, and sadness. Lonely sailors waiting for their bitter end, stranded on an island without Gilligan. No wonder I spent my youth listening to mostly progressive rock, there are very few love songs and their opposite numbers. And in those days I had nothing to measure songs of the heart against. With age comes experience, and those experiences yield so many different yardsticks to use as needed. I had several in use today.
I sit here, silent, typing, and reflecting on how I’ve been feeling; the loss of empowerment and the shrinking of my ego. The sadness of the forgotten wrench in the bottom of the tool box, replaced by a shiny new tool straight from a well-produced Kickstarter campaign, left to rust in the dark.
Years ago, I was driving to pick up a date. Yes, this was over 30 years ago. One of my favorite songs came on the radio. “Dance Away” by Roxy Music. I always loved that song. But in that instance, that song of finding solace in music and motion, became something different. It became the manifestation of a rough break up a few months prior. Tears flowed and I think I finished processing the pain I was holding. Decades later, I still love that song and I still feel the emotions of that relationship ending. And sometimes I feel the relief of finally recognizing how to move on.
I’m not feeling sorry for myself, just musing aloud. Much like music this morning, this silent, six by six cubicle is quite sad and lonely. Perhaps I can figure out a way to make these days better and repurpose that discarded wrench. Just typing this out helps.
Here are few songs to help you see the frame of my day.
Dance Away, Roxy Music
A Salty Dog, Procol Harum
Childhood’s End, Pink Floyd
Train in Vain, The Clash