Monday, March 23, 2015


Hot water flows over my scalp and down my face as steam clouds the room.  The cheap tile, flexible under my palm, without substance or support, is covered in uneven amounts of caulk from prior attempts at a superficial fix. Then the panic sets in. It erupts from some unknown place, insatiable and wretched. I don't know if it's the narrow confines of this shower or just the daily recognition that I am here, I am flesh, and I have a little more time.

This used to be my favorite part of each day--the warm, clean sensation of water on my skin. What a privileged existence we have. It's a tired and useless idea to imagine that in any time in human history, I would have been drawn to the water and made a ritual of bathing myself in it. All I can know is that I am here now and I have the complicated relationship with water that many of us share. But how did I get here? How did I arrive at a point where my morning shower is a source of stress, an awakening of desperation, a reminder of my internal conflicts and fragile mortality? And how can I be so unhappy when I have it so good compared to so many others across time and place?

I'm caught. I have so many passions and I can't say no. I'm ambitious. I always want was is just beyond reach and I never want the same thing for long. For years now, I've worked multiple jobs simultaneously to not only afford my impulsive desires but to fulfill my eager and unstoppable quest for more knowledge, more experience. 2015 is still young, but I've already been offered multiple jobs and have had one of my current jobs threatened. Over the years, I've invested a lot in myself in multiple fields, and I excel in each. I struggle with the notion of leaving an entire side of myself at the curb to propel myself fully into one field or another. I shudder at the thought of leaving something unfinished when I'm so far ahead.

More than anything, the constant exploitation wears me down. I find myself unfairly compensated in all my endeavors. I am good at what I do. I haven't found myself in an activity yet that I haven't gone above expectations and turned a few heads (with the grand exception of this shoddy blog!). I am a quick study. And I have the qualifications. But the problem I still run into every day is that everyone wants a great product, and no one wants to pay for it. I am constantly fighting for fair pay. I get satisfaction from my work, and I would love to give my employers or clients my best. But I refuse to do my best for their worst. When labor is all you own, and you know yours is top-notch, you don't give out more than a few samples. Then again, when labor is all you own, this world has you by the short hairs and doesn't feel the need for what they consider benevolence. They want you to give, but they won't give themselves. It's not an ego that I have. It's a tested self-awareness brewed with a healthy amount of empirical knowledge of how organizations screw their workers. Yet, I'm still willing to learn more from those who have been at these things longer. I'm not asking for much, in the scheme of things.

"Everyone wants a great product, and no one wants to pay for it."

Alongside my daily gear-switching from grading papers to guiding anglers to writing social theory, from teaching statistics to one group and fly-tying to another, that I have the other issues of contemporary adult life--yes, bills and marriage, but also family deaths and suicidal friends. You can plan your day or evening all you want, but everything collides and smashes and escapes your grip and self-proclaimed mastery when a close friend with whom you've shared so many laughs sends you a "goodbye," message.

I suppose what I'm getting at is entropy. To botch paraphrase the second law of thermodynamics, order moves toward disorder, and to achieve order requires more energy to be put into the system.  Life has shown me entropy lately. It requires immense amounts of energy to keep up, to meet expectations, to keep your affairs looking tidy. It's a messed up game. Because whether things are good or falling apart, in order or in disrepair, in bonding with a friend or grieving another, all I can muster is to go stand in the water.

Here's to cleaning up in 2015.


1 comment:

  1. Life with predictability would be otherwise boring, personal affairs NEVER get tidied (maybe after death) and the only expectations that need to be met are the ones you set. For every thankless person out there, there is another with deep gratitude and respect and for every jerk, a kind-hearted soul. There is a point in your life where all your curiosity, knowledge and hard work (kinetic state) align with what you love and the path becomes clear. And then you own it. It may not be 2015 but it's right around the corner. Follow your own path and don't settle for less.