On Wednesday I spent the better part of the morning hissing limp obscenities at people who will never hear a single word that I say. If the violent purely rage-driven beast was the one who did the typing I would be unemployed and unemployable in equal measure.
Now for the justifying revelation: I was yelling primarily because the people behind the monitor do not understand, nor do they care to understand my education, experience, or lifetime of expertise in my field, or in the more direct words of Southpark they were not respecting my authority. The people that I work with are scatted across the states, tend to be older, and tend to come from a lower educational background, so quite frankly they haven’t spent much time considering the nuances of polite email communication or the emotional impact of color and composition because honestly…why the hell would they? When you are trying to feed a family in a small town there ain’t a ton of time to have a complex discussion about the cultural observations made within pop art and how they have influenced and shaped design into a more self aware instrument. I can see you yawning…wait, you don’t find this utterly fascinating?
Men posture when they meet the man that they are not. The anger is used to obscure the fear that the judgements of the other might be, at least partially justified concerning their judgements of our relevance. As it turns out we might not be as important as we imagine in the larger scheme of things. When the dirt hits the coffin-lid people will go about the business of recovering and forgetting before they get to the car (because they have to) and the legacies that we imagine to be towering might turn out to be something smaller than desired, or at least really different. The odd thing is that the fabric of life that we discard as small might actually turn out to be the more important stuff. I’m not sure that my wife gives that much of a shit about color or composition either. The things that she values about me are my gentle heart or my passion, sans-argument.
Later on during the day in question, my stream of enthusiastic obscenities were interrupted by an errand that felt like a massive intrusion into my…”work”? My wife was feeling sick and in a chivalrous effort I had committed myself to making her chicken noodle soup for dinner. The only problem was that we had no groceries. So I swore my way over to the grocery store, swore my way back home and swore at the vegetables that I chopped when I narrowly missed my thumb in my violent dicing efforts. The thing is that I know in my heart that caring for my sick wife is a far more vital and honorable life pursuit than all of the bullshit logos that can be churned out in a lifetime but for some reason it doesn’t register that way. I am not validated by the person that I am, but by the work that I get paid for. The paid work counts, life is something on the side. Except that it’s not.
As a human being I am terribly efficient at misplacing my value somewhere other than the capacity to care for and love those around me. I like measurable, quantifiable praise from strangers because it feels way more cool than, “Thank you. The soup is good.” I don’t want to be a good soup cook dammit. I want to be a goddamn superhero thank you very much. Love as an ideal, as a concept looks amazing from a distance, like fireworks while skydiving. Love in action is utterly boring and riddled with thanklessness, occasionally it does a dish without bitching, it stoops low, shuffles while the slower catch up, and walks with a limp because love in practice looks remarkably like servanthood. It doesn’t make deadpan comments with firearms like Clint Eastwood and therefore has little to no masculine appeal. However all of that being said I think that love is much closer to wellness, to wholeness, to unseen and unrewarded relevance than what gets called “real” work.
I would be amiss if I allowed you to think that this is a pull-yourself-up by your bootstraps approach to life. Generally in order to see this kind of shit from the outside it has to be a granted perspective. I didn’t work for this so much as my eyes see better through the lens of grace than without it. I need it so that I can confess the bad in order to better see the good. To see the best, the worst has to be constantly acknowledged and the worst is so miserable sometimes that I have to be let off the hook by a source of authority. So sometimes I say funny things like, “Father forgive me.” Then Jesus says funny things like, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” and I feel like someone is batting on my side. Hell, maybe it’s all just a big cop out, but I’ll be damned if it’s not the best one that I have to work with. All said and done, as much as I want the superhero status for myself I just can’t be that unrealistic about who I am. It might not feel amazing per-se, but it does feel like some kind of goodness.