Monday, July 20, 2009
Warning: Personal Stuff Ahead
Pardon me for breaking my own rule, but I need to write a bit about personal matters right now. I suppose I'm mostly writing to process out some heaviness that's been weighing on my heart over the past several hours since I stepped off the plane. To put it plainly, I have to say I hate this recession for many reasons, but seeing my girlfriend bawl her eyes out at the airport when it comes time for goodbyes is probably number one. It never gets any easier. I feel just as helpless now as I felt the last two times we were forced to part ways---both instances identical to now where unfortunate circumstances required yet again we resume a long distance relationship. I feel as though I ought to know precisely what to do, but I don't. I just don't.
Men are biologically programmed to be fixers. Men like to find solutions for problems and then bask in the satisfaction of a job well done. In situations like these I recognize again, with no small frustration that I can't fix a thing. I can't fix a bad job market. I can't fix a rotten economy. I can't use my magical powers of charisma, earnestness, and articulacy to snake charm an employer into offering me a job. I can't flawlessly navigate a system that I barely understand myself. I can't fix the anguish she feels when we have to say goodbye for a little while longer. In time, of course, she calms down and I calm down, but I have come to dread goodbyes because I can clearly see the approach of the emotional roller coaster they produce headed directly towards me and I brace for impact, knowing a certain amount of pain is unavoidable.
If my story were unusual, that would be one thing, but I spoke with a friend of hers last week about this very thing. The friend is in the same situation I am. She majored in Anthropology and pursued a specialized track within that field, only to find that the jobs she was counting on after graduation had completely disappeared. Now she's left just as rudderless as I am, running into much the same existential confusion and angst. Nothing feels worse than a problem with no solution. Nothing produces more unfocused rage than knowing one's fate depends on forces beyond one's control and beyond one's comprehension, really. If there are rules to this world of not enough jobs and too many applicants, no one seems to know them. Instead we formulate our own personal philosophies to explain a poorly demarcated and incomprehensible system built on shadowy concepts and unknown variables which we are never privy to knowing.
To some extent, I understand why Obama's poll numbers have been slipping recently. It's hard to be patient when one is suffering. Still, a part of me knows that a financial crisis this dire cannot be solved overnight, either. But in between a selfish, me-centered, instant gratification mentality that grows dangerously closer to the status quo with every passing second is the equally real fact that times are tough all over for almost everyone. Sometimes we have to reconcile what our head says with what our heart says. In this situation, both make valid points and it is nothing short of foolish to try to forsake one without taking into account the other, and vice versa.
I often like to remind myself in times like these of the struggles of my dirt-poor Grandparents who grew up in the rural South during The Depression. My Grandfather Camp received two and only two presents for Christmas in those days: an apple and an orange. That was it. He was glad to have them, of course, because fresh fruit was quite expensive, but it underscores how good we have it. It underlines how much we take for granted, even when we have to tighten our belts a little bit. I suppose if you put it in those terms, I really don't have all that much to complain about, and yet part of me clings fast to my sense of righteous indignation.