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I am so NOT good at this. Is it just me? Or, are all of my fellow country men and women having trouble embracing uncertainty? It seems to me that I and others are retreating into the cave, afraid of the future. That is just so un-American. As people are treated as commodities in their work lives and no employer seemingly can be trusted, we are losing our confidence in the future to uncertainty.
I wonder if this is a generational feeling. I was brought up to “do good work” as my dues for a life in America and my down payment as a human being to the future. I take pride in my work and have sought to do a job that adds to peoples’ lives – first, in Engineering to build a better future; and now, through Librarianship and teaching and service. I want to live – as one of my favorite authors Diana Gabaldon writes - an “eminently useful life.” I thought by doing good work, in service to others and the future, that I was “of value.”
But, I am watching so many of my peers and beloved family members struggling with work – downsizing and layoffs – and what that does to a person’s belief in themselves and the future. What truly does make a life of value? And where and how much should we invest in work?
Broadway reminds us that life may not be measured in work… the Broadway musical Rent says, “measure your life in Love.” La Cage Aux Folles reminds us that the “best of times is now, so live and love as hard as you know how!” And my favorite, Les Miserables (Ah, the irony of such a metaphor in such a time as this!) always comforts me as I remember that “to love another person is to see the face of God.”
The book I am gifting this summer – The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha – short essays on the really awesome things in life remind me that it isn’t the big things that make you happy. It is the little things (and the “small people”), like real letters in the mail, warm towels, crying and laughing that truly makes people happy. It is just too scary to look at the big picture right now, so concentrate on and count your blessings. But, I feel that the times I live in call for more from me.
We watch that d%!* oil leak in real time and are faced with our own failure. It is the failure of technology, the failure of conservation and, most importantly, the failure to provide a better future for coming generations, a “mortal hemorrage.” On a gut level, we know that we are failing the earth. We are more connected to the earth than our daily lives seem, especially those of us that live in urban, heavily populated places. We need to look at the big picture and make some big changes.
Maybe instead of embracing uncertainty – we need to grapple with it. Know any good wrestling holds that work?