Friday, November 05, 2010

Lights and tunnels

In life we often find ourselves in a dark place. We get there for a variety of reasons. What we end up with is usually a gigantic stress sammich! And just as often we don’t realize that the dark place is a tunnel. We trudge and trudge through life. We go here and there. One day we look up and find that we don’t exactly know where we are going. This is not to say that we don’t know where we want to go. It’s just that we can get a little lost. We find ourselves detached from the sun that provides energy for growth and warmth. So we stagnate. We grow cold. Not knowing what else to do, we keep trudging on. After a while we will realize that there are only two ways to go in the darkness. We could go back. But going back often means choosing stagnation. It also means quitting. Some do. Then there are those of us who are stubborn and refuse to quit. We realize that we are indeed in a tunnel and choose to go forward.

Of course the problem with tunnels is that they tend to be dark and by definition, enclosed. We discover we are in them when in the process of trudging through life, we run into the walls. Eventually we get our bearings and keep it moving. We walk with the purpose of leaving the tunnel. The end goal is to return ourselves to the sun which has nurtured us and given us the energy to grow. So we trudge in the darkness. Forward or backward we move in the hope of seeing some change in the darkness. We look for that change as a sign that our journey through the tunnel is nearly over.

For those who go back, the light means sameness. Sameness as in the same old shit, every day. This is also known as stuck in a rut. Folk get stuck for a variety of reasons. Some choose to take the “default package”. That is taking whatever you can get for the absolute minimum of inputs. Often this is what those who complain about welfare recipients are talking about. Some get stuck because they try, but can’t get any traction. Often this appears to be someone moon walking in place. And there are others who by no means want the “default package”, but are bound by outside forces and can’t make the desired progress because it would be counterproductive. It’s kinda like being in the deep end of a half full pool while rescuing a person who can’t swim. You could save yourself but the other person would definitely drown. I could go on with many more examples but they are outside the scope of this post.

What is in the scope of this post are two main points.

First is that most people don’t care about the circumstances of YOUR plight as long as they have a convenient container of blame to drop you into. Usually it is the assumption that folk are trying to get all of the handouts they can possibly hope for (the “default package”). Often it is quite the opposite. Most people would choose to not be dependent on handouts if they could avoid it. The silly part of it all is that most of us need to make decisions that set up our future at the time when we are the least capable of making such long range decisions. To my experience there are VERY FEW 18 year olds who are ready to be a) financially independent, b) career tracked, c) parents, d) responsible. There may be some who may be one (or two) of the above but generally speaking most are not. So a lot of bad decisions are made at the time when a lot of our best decisions NEED to be made. And these decisions tend to follow us for QUITE a while. And because of this, ruts happen. Other things in life happen that also side track those who did plan ahead. So ruts happen. And they are hard to get out of because usually the things that you need and don’t have are the things that got you there in the first place.

The second point says simply: The light at the end of the tunnel is not always a train. Sometimes you just find that sunlight that you were looking to regain the whole time. My entire household was recently walking a tunnel in group mode. The kids were trying to ride the path of the “default package”. They turned it around and got back in school, one even has employment. They decided to move forward after realizing that walking back would only get them the nothing that they had before. I eagerly await their emergence from the tunnel. The Wife is no longer moonwalking. She has found the kind of traction that having a husband with a G.O.O.D. (Get Out Of Debt) job (with benefits) brings. Now she is able to plan more and worry less because she is no longer fighting a losing financial battle. For my own part, I was able to pass my mother on to other rescuers and was able to worry about getting myself out of the pool. This in turn turned me into a rescue with my wife keeping me from drowning. Fortunately for us both, our new employers gave us life preservers and are filling the pool so we can climb out on our own.

I may or may not include audio or video for this post. In case I don’t, I am sure that a smart bunch such as you can find access to my new theme song.

Golden by Jill Scott.