This is two weeks or so, maybe more, maybe less, of playing Wil E. Coyote, suspended in mid-air.
I don’t like the part of my brain that keeps clipping sentences. That doesn’t want to sit and luxuriate in the possibilities of the white, blank page. I don’t like the part that is mired in so many jutting, stuttered, action items that it can’t conceivably settle down and contemplate a wider world.
It feels safer just to not speak than to say something that might insist on being mentally accepted through the process of having said it.
Sure, I’m freaked out about the unknowable future. The future that is reliant on me becoming more of this professional, be-yoked person with more of this tunnel-vision, more of this aggressively tight style of brainwork that I don’t like, that demands it else the bottom falls right out, but the future that presents me as a stronger person, a person who might have the strength of will to achieve some of the objectives that me, myself, and I have agonized over for millennia.
Essentially, they are keeping me on for now. The for now of this for nowness is wildly fragile. It’s ultralight glass. I am to serve others, like some sort of chattel servant, until they find the next lord or lady where I may be installed as seneschal. Or, deemed unworthy of service and shunted to the side, unceremoniously set out on my ear while some more polished and bold chambermaid takes over my duties.
A fellow from work was asking me about my future the other night at the party where we said the first of the long series of goodbyes to my current boss. I said I didn’t honestly know. He said, well, you should be fine, so long as you keep adding value. And I nodded, lamely, subserviently, meekly, distractedly. I nodded because what do you say to such an earnestly provided and frightfully mechanical statement as that? Is my printing that email providing value? Is my wiping down that white board value. Yes. On some level, it rolls up into the larger ability of the organization to function. But the corporate speak, the sense of yourself as a unit, a cog, an ox at the mill, that’s so demoralizing. Harder still to know how I once idly craved it. Thought it would protect me from attempting to step out on my own as a writer, from walking against the storm. The storm comes with the fear and the fear comes with me.
But that’s not precisely right if we do care about the precision of language. I am not a cog now, or I am not meant to be. I am in the forefront of a lot of people who doubt me at the same instant they are required to trust me. I am a name that is attached to other names, an engine of emails. I warm a seat, but it is a well-known, important seat.
My boss hugged me at her party, after she’d had wine and there had been memorializing videos and technical difficulties on some of the videos and whispered “Thank you for everything.” I said, “Thank you for everything.” Meaning her basically not letting her doubt overtake her trust, at least so far as our short seven months together allowed. Who will the next boss be? What will they expect from me? What will I provide them if my brain is half-hopeful that I can just write my way out of these places that I’ve always had to walk out of before.
So, one says, go follow thy passion, thy bliss. Put your feet in the cold river, wander around in the dark, singing to the trees as you go. Fear nothing, grasshopper girl, Winter, as so many say, is coming. But winter only comes but once.
You’re supposed to have saved, one says, by 35, double what you’re making in salary. That. Will not happen. That will not even be close. We will be playing catch up to this benchmark until the end. Greedy, fearful ants, burrowing in the heat of the lightless earth.
I say these things not to provide clarity of meaning, but to say…damn.
What a fretful, frightful time.