Thursday, September 07, 2006

Choices

I'm working from home today, reviewing a stack of new security standards (lots of really fun stuff like infrastructure firewalls, IDS, vulnerability scanning..... yawn) and I am slowly getting through them but my concentration span has faded out to next to nothing at the moment. I'm also finding it hard to articulate, resulting in me shouting at the computer a few times. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I'm just too distracted right now. It's always sad when someone dies, even more so when you really respect and admire what they do and the type of person they are. I'm talking, of course, about Steve Irwin, whose death was all the more tragic by the bizarre circumstances in which he died. He was a passionate environmentalist and conservationist, and though his on-screen persona was far removed from many traditional wildlife presenters, I believe it was more effective in getting the message across to a wide audience than any of his contemporaries.
 
Ray Mears, another semi-hero of mine stuck the knife in slightly when the news was announced, but then I imagine there's a fair amount of rivalry between wildlife presenters and with all due respect, the most Ray has to put up with in his TV shows is the threat of dehydration and starting a fire with wet bark. You can't really compare it to coming face to face with saltwater crocodiles or the largest snakes in the world. His shows are interesting, but in a different way.
 
Anyway, I'm drifting off the point here. Steve Irwin clearly loved his life and what he did. He knew what he wanted to do with his life and enjoyed every minute of it. For that, if nothing else, he should be given the utmost respect. He probably did more in a week than most of us will do in a lifetime and this is what's keeping me awake at night. I feel like I'm waiting for my life to start, just going along with the current until I discover what it is that I want to be doing with it. But I'm getting tired of waiting to find out what that is. Maybe I need to be looking harder?
 
I spent the last couple of days in Geneva, chairing a variety of meetings with various people from around the world and it struck me that if I continue down this route I could probably become quite successful in the company I work in, and perhaps lead the jetset lifestyle that many of my colleagues think I already have. I could become well-respected and earn a lot of money. But it's really hard work (I was basically non-stop from 4am Monday to 11pm Tuesday) and I'm not sure if it's actually going to make me happy. Ok, it's challenging and interesting, and I like that - but is that enough? I'm starting to feel that I'm getting close to the point where I either accept that this is what I'm going to do with my life, or I turn around and do something completely different.

33 comments:

kate said...

i totally know what you mean. i've been a journalist for 10 years now (including university) and the gloss has definitely worn off. i hate being stuck in an office all day and when i think about the future i feel pretty powerless and it makes me sigh a lot.

on the other hand, it's really hard to break out of your comfort zone - the closer my quitting-date gets, the more i find myself worrying, 'what if i can't find another job when i get back? i actually know a lot about the stuff i'm writing about now, wouldn't i hate going back to starting over in another subject area?' and so on.

and if i DID quit journalism, what else would i want to do anyway? i don't have any clear idea what the practical alternatives are.

then there's the 'little miss sensible' voice in my head, saying 'nobody enjoys 100% of their job, every job will have aspects you don't like about it, you shouldn't expect the nine-to-five grind to make you happy, that's what your spare time is for' etc etc.

i dunno, i don't have any answers and i know i'm rambling. i guess i just wanted to say i feel much the same.

Jamie said...

So what I said the other day actually did sink in? No, this isn't a "told you so" speech, it's a "yeah, welcome to your epiphany, don't it suck" speech. I'm here to grumble as much as the next man (or woman).

It's funny, deep inside (actually quite overtly) I've always fought turning into a businessman, or money chaser, or "mature" adult. I hate all that shit. Hate it and don't want it.

Now excuse me if I sound like a hippy here, so keep an open mind... But if you fight the system, society's framework, the benchmarks that are forced upon you to measure your own and other people's success; if you fight them, you're just miserable. Will did point this out when we had this discussion last. He claimed I was jealous of everyone else because I didn't know what I wanted in life. And he was right to a degree. as I don't. Not really. I just know, have always known that there's something better than this. All of this.

I think about getting a nice flat, a car, a new guitar, some excellent suits and then I think "if I had all that, so fucking what?" (although some nice suits really would be good).

I went to a private hospital yesterday in St. John's Wood. It's the poshiest place I've ever been (more than Hampstead) but there were still rich people still waiting for the doctor. Who gives a toss if they’ve got a brabd new merc and a 5 story house? They’re still fucked when it comes to the crunch. Life isn't about possessions and it's certainly not about work. Work is a true evil in my opinion. There’s honour in work for sure, but it serves (especially today) to distract you from real life, to distract you from what the fuck you really think you’re doing. The daily grind makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something, when 99% of us have accomplished nothing. Nothing of value to yourself anyway. Nothing of value to anyone. Even if you think you have, it’s not important. I’m not degrading anyone’s jobs here, I’m criticsing how we’ve all been brought up to measure our empty lives. The big, faceless capitalism rolls on, and no-one has a single clue why they’re pushing it.

Inner peace is what you want. It’s what everyone wants. It’s what you envy in other people. It’s what keeps us awake at night. Try to argue against it and it’s impossible. All of us have a yearning inside, a higher thought to what we’re actually doing. This is why I’ve taken the first steps to try quench that feeling. And I haven’t got a clue what I’m gonna do about it.

bagelmouse said...

I think perhaps what you're referring to, Will, is the sudden realisation that if you carry on drifting in the direction you're going you'll wind up in ten years time one of the wanker executives we all hate so much, rather than Jamie's "we're all chasing after ephemera and it's shallow" theory - ? It's a question of realising what you want. I've looked around at what happens in the next step up the career ladder for me and I don't like it - it's all bureaucracy and meetings and politics - and I'm quite happy to potter along at the level I am, perhaps jumping around from company to company every few years (heh, so what's new, you may ask?!). So - you can stay put, or wait and see if something new and different turns up, or shift careers entirely. Our generation isn't stuck in one career any longer, it's the upside to the demise of 'jobs for life'.

Incidentally Jamie, I think your admission of not wanting to become a "mature" adult may be more telling than you'd like to admit ;-) What's so special about struggling along on crap money doing something that in the end turns out to be just like everything else? I've worked for start-ups, I've worked for charities, I've worked for large institutions and educational establishments and I've come to the conclusion that the only reason for working is to keep yourself occupied so you don't go mad with boredom, and to get the financial security to enjoy yourself in your time off. 'Careers' are not necessarily the meaningful things they were sold to us at school. But working at a decent level of seniority, and pulling the odd long shift, is a worthwhile option.

(Oh, and just as a warning; the next person who tells me I'm lying to myself will be knocked out cold. Do you have any idea how insulting it is to tell someone they're not bright enough or self-aware enough to know their own mind?)

Jamie said...

You're not lying to yourself. You're distracting yourself. You get angry every time this subject comes up but seriously, "working at a decent level of seniority, and pulling the odd long shift, is a worthwhile option."

I feel absolutely shocked you'd write something like this. I’d say disappointed if I didn’t think you’d take great offence to it (when you really shouldn’t). No offence, but re-read it. To me, it seemed like a 'I've given up and I'm trying to justify it' speech.

You automatically put my resistance against "maturity" (at least I recognise it) in the context of work, as if I want to be a bending-the-rules-cheeky-admin-guy or whatever who doesn't want the responsibility of being a manager. Bollocks! I'm not talking about work, I'm talking about LIFE.

But. If you want to talk about work, in a work context then… here: I don't want to work full stop. Not because I'm lazy (I've worked ever since I was 15 and never claimed a penny of benefit or lived on handouts) but because working is a pointless waste of a human. A waste of a soul and a waste of a life. It's there by default. It gives you a bit of affiliation and make us think we’re doing something worthwhile. Who gives a fuck about any of it? About one single bit of it. It's not what life's about, it's what society is about. Pre-defined, money orientated society that offers us safety and security (which I appreciate and agree with on a daily basis) but it doesn't get to the root cause of the restlessness we all have inside of us. A restlessness that comes out when we’re drunk, when we formulate plans, when we have hope. No-one fantasises about the future involving work, at least not the day to day work we are forced to do.

Forget work, it means NOTHING. It's a fucking sideshow. Don't let it cloud your judgement or smother your dreams. It sounds cheesy but it’s a serious matter.

I say this now, and I know it's gonna sound cocky or presumptuous but work will never, ever satisfy your soul. At least, not the kind of work you refer to. Don't think about your body's work, think about your soul's work. Don't think about your status and work, but your status at life. And certainly don't ever let yourself think "working at a decent level of seniority, and pulling the odd long shift, is a worthwhile option." Man alive.

Worthwhile how? To whom? How doe s it add a single bit of value to a life? The more we buy, earn and work the more we neglect and forget about ourselves.

I might sound like a raging hippy but you know this to be true. This is the crazy thing, we all know it. We all get drunk and chat about it, we all pretend that sitting in an office, working at a "decent level of seniorty" isn't gonna be our sole achievement in our lives where we take the path of least resistance. But, unless you consciously object and recognise how we waste the potential in us, actually, make that the NEED and DESIRE in us, you're get so far in, there's no getting out.

Jamie said...

Don't take offense to this. It's me ranting about how we should embrace life. Yeah, I can't do it either :(

kate said...

jamie you have NO idea how much you sound like some anarchists i know. seriously. it's really freaking me out.

will post something more meaningful later, gotta go be careerist for a bit ....

Pete said...

Hey Jamie, that existential angst is all well and good but after 10 years of worrying you have to shit or get off the pot. Being able to make decisions and move on with your life is more important than seeing the potential of routes you can't take.

There is much more to life than work, but much like a hand of poker you have to take the cards you're dealt and play them as well as you can. If you're having the same conversation with yourself in a month, you've just folded and let the ante go. Having a degree of freedom and control over your life in our society is going to be much easier if you can make money. If you go in to that mission with no positivity, pragmatism or pride then you're going to hate it, so what you have to do is find some element of your career that matters to you and go for it. If money is changing hands there must be something about your job that matters to someone, so use your time to figure out how to do it better or change jobs to somewhere where you can make a difference.

Being negative or complacent about your work is a trap (and one I've fallen into) that will just lead you into missing out on opportunities because you think they don't really matter. Someone else stupider but more ambitious than you is going to take them, and everyone involved is going to be poorer for it.

I don't think our society has the right balance between work and life at the moment, but that's only going to change through evolution rather than revolution. If you marginalise yourself and become a negative commentator on the outside then you can't be part of the solution. What's more, your understanding of society and how things really get done will be broken because you'll be constantly swimming against the current rather than with it.

Tim said...

Hey I said 'shit it or get off the pot' too!

Will deleted my comment because it probably wasn't very constructive. Good advice though.

Will said...

I deleted it because it didn't make any sense (it's 'shit or get off the pot' not 'shit it...'). But it also wasn't very constructive.

I shall be adding to the debate but right now I'm going home....

Will said...

I totally agree with Jamie, but I think Pete's spot on here. Unless you can figure out a way to opt out of society then you've pretty much got no choice but to accept to live within it's capitalist framework. I'm not yet in the correct frame of mind to provide enlightening advice, nor can I let you know what options I am considering for my future direction - although there are many, and they are various, and I will mention them when I'm out and about.

What sage-like advice I can offer however is to read this book http://tinyurl.com/rfbqc

There are unfortunately no answers, but it is refreshing at least to understand that many people are wrestling with similar conundrums....

bagelmouse said...

Oh Jamie. I think you and I must have generally fundamentally different ways of approaching our lives, cos when I was unemployed for a month (only a month!) I was BORED. BORED OUT OF MY MIND. More bored than I've ever been at work, whatever dumb job it was at the time. I evidently need more structure to my life than you, you freewheeling little hippy.

Will said...

But life shouldn't have to be a choice of either work 9-5, 5 days a week or sit at home doing nothing. There should be a balance somewhere. I believe the key to happiness if finding that balance. Before the industrial revolution people didn't take holidays, because the whole concept was so alien to them - work wasn't something that took up all of their time so they didn't need to escape from it in the way that we have to today.

kate said...

ok you're ALL freaking me out now. you take the piss out of me with the whole anarchism thing and now listen to you all, you're saying all the stuff that i've always believed.

Pete said...

Yeah, well I've still not met you yet, but as much as my politics can be nailed to the wall I'm an anarchist too.

I strongly believe that every mature individual is responsible for thinking for themselves, making their own decisions and taking personal responsibility for them. Delegating important decisions about the direction of our society to the extent that we do is wilful and ethically repugnant powerlessness.

However before we're ready for anarchy as a species the level of knowledge, understanding, decision making ability and general accountability has to go up across the board. My benchmark for maturity is more than managing to live 18 years in a row. An anarchist revolution for today's human race would be like giving the keys to a porsche to a thirteen year old or trying to impose democracy on the middle east. However, it's my ideal for human life - to be governed not by the rule of law, but by our own high standards for our lives and how we want to live them.

Until people are ready to choose anarchy, democracy is the best thing we've got. Evolutionary steps towards anarchy will only be made by people with enough power to live their lives as they choose, and getting that power can't be done by simply throwing your toys out of the pram when you realise that the current situation isn't the ideal yet.

Alison said...

Pete, you said "you have to take the cards you're dealt and play them as well as you can". When do we get delt these cards? Are we not all as able as each other when we start? When do we stop wanting to be what we wanted to be when we were 3, 4 or 5? And why did we stop wanting to be a fireman, or ambulance driver or whatever else we had picked out for ourselves? And why do these all seem to be the more "meaning" careers we now wish we had?

I don't know if I ever want to be totally happy with my life, because that will mean I will stop searching for something else. Sure I want to be happy, but do I want it ALL before I am ready to die??

I think the real question is what are you (I remove myself from the group as I always make life changing descisions on a whim, being in London proves that and mean you as in anyone who is not me)all so afraid of? Is looking for want you want to do the wrong way of looking at it? I don't know if I will ever know what I want to do other than have enough money to not have to work for the first 5 years after I have kids and not have to worry about money. What I have to do to get that money doesn't really matter to me. Having temped for the last year the question I ask isn't "will I like the job", it is "is the money enough to give me what I want out of it?" When I left high school I had no idea of what I wanted to do and had always been told that I could do anything in the world, if I put my mind to it. So I started a search to find my dreams and see if I could find myself along the way and made a conscious effort to do as many things, work and life as I could to see what I liked, what i didn't, what I was good at and what I was crap at. Sorry I have forgotten to make my point from before and if I leave it to much longer it won't seem relevant....

Is looking for want you want to do the wrong way of looking at it? If you know it is NOT what you want to do then stop. Yes it is as easy as that. I think Will's dilema is that he has got himself into such a comfort zone that leaving it is now really hard. Plus this job gives him a lot of those things outside of work that he wants. But if you aren't doing what you want to do, does it matter what you do while you try to get there or figure it out??

A few years ago all my friends were like "plans, what do you want to make plans for?" But I think it is the fact that we don't know if what we are doing is helping us to get where we eventually want to end up. But I think all that is a whole other conversation.

But I must say it is the most bizzare and foreign thing to me to be having a "discussion" with you all about a subject like this over the internet.

I think when it comes to things like this you have to ask yourself what the stakes are. What is it that you really have to loose? And aren't they just the material things anyway?

And Kate, I never found breaking out of my comfort zone that hard, what was hard was seeing who was there when I had and dealing with putting it all back together again. I remember when I was a kid we would all talk about how if there was an accident we would all help and be the heros and laadeedaa, but you never know what you CAN do until you are forced!!

Right I will stop there or I will go on forever, sorry folks didn't work today and so haven't seen anyone all day!!!

kate said...

pete - i agree with your post and all i'd say in response is that i see anarchism as a process, not an end. if that makes sense.

Pete said...

Kate: Yep, that makes sense. Anarchism is a way of living, and that's always going to be a dynamic process for individuals and the group they are part of.

Alison: Wow - so many questions there. I'll just have a stab starting at the top and answering the ones that seem to be triggered by what I said.

Q: When do we get dealt these cards?

From birth until we die. We enter every year, day or second with our physical and mental state, choose to act, experience other people's actions around us, and leave in a new physical and mental state.

In my metaphor, that's a round of poker. If you go a month without learning something or progressing towards your goals or the decisions you need to make, you're just a month older. If you defer important decisions long enough to miss opportunities, you're not in control of your life and you won't get where you want to go.

Q: Are we not all as able as each other when we start?

No. Every human being is, amongst other things, a genetic vector from their ancestors to their offspring (if any). Genes do make a difference. Character, talent, experience, luck and your choices determine what you can do with your life, but we don't start equal.

Q: When do we stop wanting to be what we wanted to be when we were 3, 4 or 5?

As soon as our understanding of the world advances from that of a 3, 4 or 5 year old. Even if you still want to be the same thing, you'll be making a continous judgement about whether that's the right thing for you.

Q: And why did we stop wanting to be a fireman, or ambulance driver or whatever else we had picked out for ourselves?

Because we had to take the opportunities open to us and play to our strengths and our talents. Let's face it, those choices were often based on liking sirens and bright colours not on an objective assessment of our courage or first aid skills.

Q: And why do these all seem to be the more "meaning" careers we now wish we had?

Well, capitalism is an incentive system to convince smart people to stop sitting at home playing with themselves and do something someone else needs to get done. Inevitably, if you're devoting most of your waking hours to do doing someone else's bidding and you're not aware or happy with the compromise you're making, basically you're going to want to tell them to fuck off. The grass is going to look greener anywhere else. Success in a capitalist society is about aligning some of your goals with someone elses, or creating or changing their goals to fit yours. Doing the latter requires quite a bit of cunning and most people don't bother.

It's tempting, but I can't help thinking that opening "the nature of meaning" as a topic probably isn't the best way to spend my afternoon. Some other time.

The main thing I'm curious about is how you're going to have money to not work for 5 years if you're temping and living in London. It sounds fun, but I don't think you'll be saving much. Have you got it all tucked away in an investment account already?

Alison said...

Hi Pete,

I didn't really want answers to the questions and didn't intend the whole thing for you, but thanks for the insight!!

**Kate - sorry for being a bitch when we met, I am not really good with people and definately not people who intimidate me because it usually goes the other way around. So sorry, maybe we could try again and just talk about shoes and not any kind of meaningful crap that I might feel emotional about (which leaves basically only shoes I am afraid) as I am not very good at keeping my emotions in check.

Pete to answer your question regarding what I am going to do to get this money..... I feel my choices are endless (as I don't have a red cent to my name). Firstly I don't see myself in London when I am ready to have kids. And I definately don't see myself temping until then either. I am well aware of what I might have to sacrafice to be able to stay at home with my kids.

Yes I am living in London and temping and having fun atm, but the way I see it I still have plenty of time to have fun before I have to start saving money for children, don't forget we have not yet reached my 22nd birthday (which by the way is 3rd October, anybody interested in doing anything??).

Yes it is a grand plan and I don't really know how it is going to work or if it will, but having a plan or idea of where you want to get to has to be better than aimless wandering. Plus I am hoping I will have a loving partner to help me get through it all, and if not I will just follow in the footsteps of my sister.

I am not pretending to have all the answers, I am probably the worst off of all of you, I just don't see how spending loads of time thinking about what to do helps you to get it done!!

That and I can't rant like this when Will comes home to talk about it all.

The thing is you don't know until you try and would you rather live asking yourself "what if I had....." or have to work while your kids are young and have no money for a while? I have made my choice and have no regrets so far.

Right, birthday ideas people... I need ideas!! That and who is interested.

Will said...

I might have a party...

Jamie said...

Well, out of everyone here, I can't help but think Alison's speaking the most sense.

I hear a lot of "everyone's gotta bite the bullet and sell out sometime" resignment (is that a word) in people. Shitting or getting off the pot is another way of sayin "if you 'aint managed to achieve your dreams, it's time to stop dreaming". Balls to that.

I don't see why (if you have no dependents) there should be any comprimise in life.

Life is glorious, brilliant and full of endless opportunities. However, it is also hard. Hard to get out of it what you want. Hard to carve yourself into what you wanna be, hard to live with others in every aspect of your life. But this is also exciting.

Alison used the example of being 5. Sure, it's young and you obviously haven't got your head around the world yet, but why stop wanting what you did when you rwere 5, 6, 7, 15... It's what your highest thoughts were, unpolluted by world weariness.

In one of my job interviews a few months back, when I told the panel I was in a couple of bands, they both actually laughed out loud, as if it was a punchline or something. The punchline is actually that they laughed.

It's difficult not to have "ego investment" in people, in society, it's difficult to swim against the current. So difficult I pretty much can't do it. But I'm working on it.

There's a stupid sticker at work which says "inside every mature person is an immature person shouting WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED". I think this sums up this conversation beautifully.

I'm not criticising anyone for their views, but in terms of the general discussion, surely phrases like "go for it", "anything is possible, "I want this" or "put your mind to it" rather than "shit or get off the pot" or "pulling the odd long shift, is a worthwhile option." That's not a judgment on anything anyone said, but surely positivity is the way forward? Saying "ah, but I'm being realistic" to me says "deep down, I've already resigned myself to not experiencing all I want to be" and for what reason? It's frowned upon?

No-one here has responsibility. We're all free to work on our only life goal. Surely there's nothing else TO DO!

Will said...

Amen.

If you stop believing in your dreams you accept mediocrity.

Just look at Kate here - willing to give it all up and try the travelling kick, even if it goes against everything safe and secure that she knows. This mentality should be rewarded, not mocked.

Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. - Oscar Wilde

btw. I hear Ant wants to be a Locksmith, big up to you. In the words of one Albert Einstein - "If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith."

Jamie said...

Will there, making passing references to the words of three great men.

Oscar Wilde
Albert Einstein
Jamie Marshalll

thankyouverymuch

bagelmouse said...

Actually, I don't see people saying "deep down, I've already resigned myself to not experiencing all I want to be". As Pete's pointed out, you adjust your viewpoint all the time as you get older. I wanted to be a journalist. I would have made a shitty journalist, I don't have the rampagingly inquisitive mind and I hate going out and questioning people. So I would have been unhappy doing something I would be shitty at. If anything, I think you adjust your aims as you get older and discover more opportunities - as you get past the view of the world that your family or school or village holds, as you grow and discover for yourself who you are - I wanted to be a journalist when I was 15 cos I had very little idea of the range of opportunities out there, just like when you're 5 you want to be a fireman or a teacher; it's all you're aware of at that age. And Jamie - if pulling the occasional long shift means I leave work with the knowledge that I've done my job well, a job that only a few people around here can do well, then yes, I consider it worthwhile for that sense of personal satisfaction. It's this strange thing called 'pride in my work', as I want to have pride in everything I do (stopping this thought here before it turns into a beer advert).

Don't mistake growing up and realising different things about yourself for 'compromising' and ditching your dreams. Usually those dreams were crap to begin with. And if you're unhappy doing whatever you're doing now, I'm sorry, but stop blaming some amorphous concept of 'society' for wrecking your childhood dreams! That's the ultimate in abdicating personal responsibility! You want something - go do it. Yourself. Don't look to someone else to blame for 'keeping you down'. I have what I want thankyouverymuch, cos contrary to what (some of) you seem to think, I am fairly self-aware. Now stop whinging, go work out what it is you want and go do it. And stop criticising other people's choices or get the imagination to understand that people can want something other than what you want and still be happy. What is it with this thing where we seem to believe you're only happy if you're doing something 'unusual'? I did my unusual thing over ten years ago, thanks, I left where I grew up and went off to live my dream of going to university, coming to London and getting a job I loved. Please don't tell me I've compromised on that dream. I think I've fulfilled it to the letter.

(Incidentally - Jamie, anyone who laughed at you when you said you were in a band are evidently wankers. You wouldn't want to work for them.)

Jamie said...

I never blamed anyone but me. I even said that "I can't do it". Obviously it's me. I'm not saying that people have to do anything unusual. If you love what you're doing, then cool. If you've achieved what you wanted then great. But what next? Life has an infinite amount of choices.

If anything, if you want to do someting unusual, then you're micked, not the other way around.

It's annoying that this whole conversation has been focused on work, when really work is a very small part of a bigger picture, a picture of love, family, friends, the planet, music, art, emotion, experience, wants and needs. Everyone knows it, but remember these are all tools for you (as in anyone) to use every day, to discover who you are. To be anything you wish. For you to have inner peace. And, that 'aint ever gonna be achieved sitting behind a desk.

bagelmouse said...

Hmm, yes - as I've said to Jamie over email, I actually find it quite surprising that in this post, everyone's advocating "no compromise!" in work, yet over in this post there seemed to be a more relaxed attitude when it came to compromise in relationships. Which, as Jamie points out, are by far the more important.

*shrugs* People are weird. This is why I prefer cats.

Alison said...

You have to compromise more in relationships because you are never going to find someone perfect (though they may be perfect for you) and you can't force somone to change. Even if they can see that they need to.

When it comes to work and you have no commitments (like us all) you can choose what you want and don't have to compromise.

I just think that with all the time spent thinking, discussing, planning and worrying about what will make you (us) happy, we have wasted valuable time that could be used doing something that might make us happy. Sure you have to work out the logistics of it, like selling a flat, getting a visa, having enough money etc, etc, etc... but after you have all that figured out, what is the point in stressing.

I mean really, if your whole life turned to shit, what would you do? The way you see it you have 2 choices:
1. Start again
2. Die
Me? I would move back in with my parents and start again, something I have done a few times already. I just think that if I have been able to get this far, with the little that I know now, imagine how much further I could get with what I would learn while my life is falling apart.

I also value work and am always proud of any work that I do, it doesn't mean that I like it and I think people should be careful not to confuse the two. My Dad always said that you don't get judged on how well you do the things you like to do but on how well you do the things you don't. If you do them the same, you have a good work ethic and the ability to do what it takes to get the job done.

Jamie, I don't think I have ever seem you laugh let alone be happy. What sorts of things make you happy? What are your dreams? This might be a bit to intimate to talk about over a blog, but then when you know what makes you happy why keep it a secret??

Anyway I am on lunch now so will end my conversation of life changes here.

bagelmouse said...

Alison: "I just think that with all the time spent thinking, discussing, planning and worrying about what will make you (us) happy, we have wasted valuable time that could be used doing something that might make us happy."

Stopping to consider consequences and who/what your actions might affect, and pausing to think about what you're about to charge headlong into, is what separates us from animals. That, and cutlery.

Amy said...

Yes but... this is all very middle class and while there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that, it is ignoring the glaring fact that we are in the position of luxury of actually having these ephiphanies etc.

We have a lot of choice as to what "work" we do. We don't have to be out there ploughing the fields to get enough food so we don't starve and die. I'm pretty sure most of you don't have to work just to have enough money to feed your kids and keep them in clothed and warm. We're all pretty damn lucky and I think people forget that, in the quarter-life/mid-life crisis angst moment.

It could be a hell of a lot worse. You're not stuck in a Stalinist gulag, for instance. You took the job of your own free will, and you can leave of your own free will.

Yes, I could pack in my job and go backpacking, but only because I have the money from working in my office job to have the luxury to be able to make that choice. I couldn't get out of the country if i didn't have the funds. I'm not having a dig at anyone, if you want to travel, go for it - another way of looking at it is if you are in the lucky position of being able to do it, then make the most of it, it would be churlish to abuse the opportunity. Grab it with both hands etc.

You can do anything you want to, moreorless - just most people choose not to. Because it's scary. Because they are comfortable. Because it could be a lot worse. And if you didn't have the nice suit, house, car whatever by the time you hit mid-30s, are you saying that you wouldn't feel the peer pressure on you to conform? You wouldn't feel your friends weren't leaving you behind? We are social creatures and the social set-up, priorities etc are all wrong. What is natural is that as social creatures we want to conform to societal norms. If the norms are wrong, then how do you change them? Is it by quitting your job? Maybe. Maybe not. I think the problem runs deeper, in terms of the dream and lifestyles we are sold. We are sold so much stuff all the time, that we _should_ want, how we _should_ live - we are exposed to something like over 700 advertising messages a day. That's where the insane consumer culture comes from that we live in or at least is perpetuated. It would have been heresy even 50 years ago to buy new clothes every season, and throw things out that hadn't been mended first, or passed on to someone else. So much waste... So much wanting of stuff that doesn't matter. It is all fundamentally wrong, and yes I work in marketing and yes i do think Bill Hicks was right... but still I'm not going to quit my job as I have bills to pay and hopefully in a couple of years little mouths to feed. And I have squared that with myself. I do my job - if I didn't someone else would - and I do what I can from within to try and steer things in ethical directions etc. Work the system as best you can.

I'm not sure that's true about the industrial revolution by the way. I'm pretty sure they didn't have holidays as they couldn't afford to, I seem to recall through the hazy mists of time since I did GCSE history. You basically had no social security until the Victorian era, and people just died if they couldn't earn. However just as with the industrial revolution, the technological revolution promised it would free up the time of the workers by increasing productivity but no - just means you produce more in the time available, so more is expected and the whole process just speeds up. The Blackberry is evil! Why would I _want_ to be accessible to work 24/7?! Life is lived like a race these days, walk around London and you can see everyone grimly trying to get where they want to go as fast as possible. Look up the definition of "career" in the dictionary and it literally means "To move at full speed" which says a lot, I think. People never used to have careers, they used to have jobs. I'd be quite happy with a job, that paid me enough to have a life that satisfied me outside of it. (However much "enough" may be...)

Amy said...

Gosh. That was rather longer that I expected it to be. Sorry about that.

bagelmouse said...

*chuckle* It has passed through my mind that all this angsting is such an incredibly middle class thing to do... oh no, what shall I do with my life?! There were none o' this when my parents were kids, they were sent down t'pit when they were six and didn't come up til they were forty-three. If they were lucky.

Alison said...

Bagelmouse,

I am not sure if you meant to or not but I feel that you are implying that I don't think through my actions before I do them.

If this is the case you need have no fear!! I know who the people are who love me and whom my actions will affect and do concider them when making my choices. And I think things through as much as I need to to feel ready to make a choice, just because that may be a lot quicker than you does not mean that I have not thought of all the things I need to.

Funny this is the second time I have "said" this today but I am not afraid of making mistakes in my life and dealing with the consequences.

The most important people in my life are happy if I am happy. And if that is what it is all about (being happy) then what is so wrong with being a little more animalistic every now and then.

Plus I thought it was our ability to mimmic others that seperated us from animals!

Amy said...

"The most important people in my life are happy if I am happy. And if that is what it is all about (being happy) then what is so wrong with being a little more animalistic every now and then."

Que? What do you mean, animalistic? As in the type of animalistic that is red in tooth and claw? Following that logic, the argument - you make me feel unhappy/threatened, therefore I can kill/maim you which makes me feel better and happy, therefore as I am happy so those around me who love me are happy - makes perfect, yet warped, sense... Should we not consider the impact on other people in general, rather than just those that love you?

I'm going to hate myself for saying this but...

Did you think that post through before you posted it?

... sorry, couldn't resist that last remark - sorry if this is a touchy subject I have just blundered into, I am only messing wit u. ;)

(Also I thought it was supposedly self-awareness that was the differentiating factor between "us and them". If it is mimicry then my long dead pet rabbit that copied the dog is also human. I'm working on teaching the cat to use a spoon. Deplorable table manners. Damn that lack of opposable thumb.)

Pete said...

Wow - the thread that never dies is still going.

Mimicry, self-consciousness and even planning ahead don't really mark people apart from animals. The key thing that sets us apart is language. By evolving the part of our brain that understands grammar we are able to transmit complex abstract ideas from one individual to another, sharing and building on knowledge in a way that leaves most other animals standing.

It's very hard to directly assess how much consciousness different animals have. Some cetaceans and primates have rudimentary cultures - methods of hunting etc - that they pass on to their offspring. Some animals grieve when they lose a pack mate. There are plenty of examples out there.

Anyway, why assume that the main difference is spiritual and internal - that man is somehow set apart by an intrinsic quality? Just as a bird is a kind of lizard that learnt to fly, a human is a kind of monkey that learnt to talk. That capability is what completely changed our place in the world.