It’s a quote I stumbled upon this morning from Scott Scanlon:
I logged into Facebook yesterday and a few of my friends shared pictures of their dinner. It made me think… before social media did people take pictures of their dinner and then when you came over they said… “you got to see this, here’s what I ate last night… do you like it?”
I’m guilty of it for sure:
And I could go on and on…
I’ve got to laugh though, because if you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re doomed!
Ok. Imagine you have just won £10 million in the lottery. Would you quit your current job or would stay on as if nothing has changed?
We recorded the next episode of the Havana Cafe Sessions podcast today and our topic was about work and why people do it. During my conversation with Sarah, I mentioned that a lot of people are stuck in a job that they would happily walk away from if they didn’t need the money. They stay put, however, for a variety of reasons like fear, comfort, not knowing what else to do, not knowing how to change, or simply because their current financial situation doesn’t allow them to leave.
For those who stay put because of fear or more specifically because of the fear of the unknown, I was wondering would these people change if they knew the outcome of their decision to leave would be favourable. And inline with the podcast topic of work, would they choose to do work that was more fulfilling and gave them a greater sense of purpose? Is it the unknown outcome that keeps them in place?
What would you do for work/career if you knew with 100% certainty that you would not fail, and that you would be super successful, monetarily and otherwise?
For many years I have traveled in many parts of the world. In America I live in New York, or dip into Chicago or San Francisco. But New York is no more America than Paris is France or London is England. Thus I discovered that I did not know my own country.
I, an American writer, writing about America, was working from memory, and the memory is at best a faulty, warpy reservoir. I had not heard the speech of America, smelled the grass and trees and sewage, seen its hills and water, its color and quality of light. I knew the changes only from books and newspapers. But more than this, I had not felt the country for twenty-five years.
Like Steinbeck in Travels with Charley, I have become a stranger to my own country. The last time I was on American soil was November 1995. I had won a free flight to Boston from one of the daily papers. At that point, I had been out of the country for a few years so thought to make the best of the trip by flying into Boston and then taking a Greyhound bus from Boston to Georgia I felt a thousand mile bus journey would help me get reacquainted with my country and its people. I had also planned to stop along the way to see some of my family. I have relations all along the east coast of America. Sad note: I didn’t know this at the time, but this would also be the last time I would see my mother alive.
When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job.
I searched my old blog and found these entries from my last visit to the States. It’s funny reading through them after all this time:
Once I traveled about in an old bakery wagon, doubled-doored rattler with a mattress on its floor. I stopped where people stopped or gathered. I listened and looked and felt, and in the process had a picture of my country the accuracy of which was impaired only by my own shortcomings.
I feel like I need to go home again. Where that is I’m not so sure anymore. Maybe I need to do my own version of Travels with Charley and go in search of America.
I wonder what I might find.
So it was that I determined to look again, to try to rediscover this monster land. Otherwise, in writing, I could not tell the small diagnostic truths which are the foundations of the larger truth.
Time to make a plan, I think. Anyway, if you haven’t read Travels with Charley, it’s a fine read. In fact, it’s my favourite piece of John Steinbeck writing and it always makes me homesick for the open road and my homeland.
I am awakened by the howling of my neighbor’s cat beneath my window. I had intended to have a lie-in seeing how it is Sunday morning. I don’t usually lie-in. Perhaps my neighbor’s cat realizes this and is trying to keep me from regretting not getting up early. I stumble out of the bed. I might as well not let the cat wake everybody else up. I walk down the stairs wiping away the sleep. I am distracted by the dream I was just having. It is the second one featuring my neighbor, Baz and his wife Katherine. This time Baz is on his Blackberry yelling at his son because he is about to make us all late for the 15 mile Walk for Life charity event in which Ruth and I are walking. Baz, Katherine and Daniel are meant to be our cheering section. Perhaps it’s poetic justice that it is their cat who has awakened me from my slumber.
I stumble out into the back garden and make a few noises in the hopes of stopping the cat from howling. It doesn’t work. I go back in and walk zombie-like to the back room for a good old Austin Powers pee. It is only after I come crashing out of the downstairs bathroom that is on suite to the back room, that I suddenly become aware of the fact that my mother-in-law is sleeping there. I forgot that she is visiting us for a couple of days. I slip out of the room, embarrassed, hoping that she hasn’t heard me.
Now that I am up, I head straight for the kettle to get my morning cup brewing. I am trying to decide if I should use the quiet time to write, read, or upload files to my publisher. As usual when I am undecided on what to do, I check my email and FaceBook for any messages. There are a few comments about the photo I posted of Ruth and I on our way to Sean and Kath’s costume party. And there are a couple of more request to be friends. My mind now settled, I decide to read. I am re-reading John Updike’s Rabbit, Run. I am in the mood for some serious literary fiction and you can’t go wrong with John Updike.
It is not long before Brittany is awake. She comes and watches me read. It is Father’s Day and she has made a cool card for me. On the front cover is a book about philosophy next to a pint of beer. I chuckle because I am amazed how perceptive she is of my habits. She has me sussed alright. My son is as cheeky as his father. The front cover of his card to me reads: ‘cool, talented, funny, clever, brilliant…’ on the inside it reads: ‘enough about me… happy father’s day.’
I am glad I did the things I did when I was young. I lived hard and played hard as a soldier and a young man. I see some of these young kids in the call centre and I think what a waste of youth. I am working with a 19 year old girl and she is absolutely miserable. She is not married, has no kids, no mortgage and yet she feels miserable because she feels trapped. Trapped by what I am not sure? She wants to do things. But she makes excuses for not doing them. And I think fuck, you are 19, how can you be this miserable? Why not go out and do something with your life? At 19 I was convinced I could conquer the world and nobody could tell me different.
life is confusing
life is good
life is crazy
life is upside down
life is limited
life is awkward
life is exciting
life is scary
life is brilliant
life is dumb
life is mad
life is love
life is a cold beer and a pretty girl
(The photo is of me on a training exercise back in the day. Note: I have an AK47 in my hand. Rawdawg will appreciate that. Click on the photo to see a larger version.)
Here is a little known fact: by formal education, I am a military historian. You start life down one path, then end up on another. I had every intention of being a working military historian. Things happen. People change. Life moves on. But that is another story, for another day.
I was rummaging through my attic looking for an old journal of mine that contained a passage I wanted to quote in an essay. In the messy process of searching for this journal (I am so glad we now have things like blogs, and macjournal, with search functions) I stumbled across one of my old military history notebooks. I couldn’t resist having a skim through it. This passage caught my eye:
9 reasons why governments go to war:
– to reclaim certain rights or defend them
– to protect interests of the state
– to maintain balance of power
– to fulfill treaties and alliances
– to promote political or religious theories
– to acquire territory
– to defend independence of state
– to avenge insulted honor
– for conquest
I suspect a combination of these reasons could work as well. I am just thinking what category might places like Iraq and Afghanistan fit. I see Iraq being about protecting the interests of the state and possibly about the balance of power. That’s just me speculating. My mind no longer occupies this kind of space anymore. I have no desire to go deep with this. I am curious, though, about where other current conflicts might sit.
By the way, I cite in my notebook, Antoine-Henri Jomini as the originator of the 9 reasons governments go to war.
Perhaps some of you arm chair generals and politicians out there might want to have a go at classifying some of the current conflicts.
i am worn out today.Â i had a small breakfast and missed lunch, which is not a good thing when you are running 1000 miles an hour; i need some fuel.Â my henry rollins books came in the post today, along with the first issue of my subscription to philosophy now; more reading material.Â another turn of the wheel is taking place; i smell big changes on the wind.Â i like change, but it is the aftermath i could do without.Â in the locker room, a naked old man told me i looked fit.Â he was the third naked old man to say that this week; should i be worried?
I lost the craving
for my dad’s favor
I can stop misbehaving
I know he’s not my savior