Life in the Pit
This week I had another opportunity to put my word for 2014 into action . . . and of course I failed. =P
It happened on the metro. I was filing into the car reserved for women, children, senior citizens, and the disabled, when two people hurriedly squeezed in at my elbow. One of them was a youngish man, and the other was his woman companion, who was squealing, "Hurry before the security guard sees us!" The guard had already spotted them, though, and was blowing his whistle . . . and I was doing my part by saying, "Excuse me! Excuse me! I think the guard has something to say." (Sigh.) Unfortunately, the doors closed before the guard could tell them they were breaking the rules . . . and I spent the rest of the ride stewing at both their bad manners and my own reluctance to confront them.
"What would you have done?" I asked the older woman from work who occasionally advises me. You remember: she of the supplicating "I beg your patience" strategy.
She replied, "I would have said"--and here she raised her voice to an obnoxious volume--"'There are really some people who DON'T understand simple instructions! I HATE it when people who know better pretend they don't and then try to get away with it! Some people have no CLASS, and they're also the ones with no SHAME!'" She lowered her voice again. "And I know the rest of the people in the car would be on my side, even if they never speak up."
Ah, shame: nothing is more effective at getting your average Filipino to toe the line than the possibility that someone will comment loudly on his bad behaviour in public. (This is a sad LOL.)
But "getting people to overhear" (my translation of an actual Filipino word!) just isn't my style--which is fortunate or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it.
To all the non-Filipinos reading this: how would you have handled that situation?
* * * * *
When I think of Uni, I am filled with such an abhorrent surge of hatred that it could almost make me sick. To me right now, it seems like Uni crushes any little individuality or uniqueness you have, and squashes you down into a series of tick boxes and numbers whilst a beady-eyed examiner analyses whether you're deemed worthy of a piece of paper on the basis of how well you've regurgitated the stagnant words of some ancient professor of a bygone era who wouldn't even be able to tell you what a hashtag is.
When I think of Scarphelia, Gatherly, my band boys, travelling, writing--everything I'm doing to enhance myself on an extra-curricular basis . . . Well, I don't mean to sound blunt, but in comparison it's rainbows and fucking unicorns. I feel so passionate excited to the very fibre of my bones about everything I am doing here, that I just can't possibly justify it to myself that to give this up and to return my focus to academia, could possibly be the best thing for me.
-- Katie Oldham, who blogs at Scarphelia, on why she has decided to drop out of uni
There's so much more to growing a pair than standing up for yourself (or for the rules) in public. The highest expression of this sort of courage is choosing the good when everyone around you is discouraging it. That's what Katie is doing by choosing her own path through adulthood . . . and what I'm considering in the face of growing discontent with my job.
Katie's post is just the latest in a whole series of triggers. The first came last Sunday, when my mother told me about Pope Francis's Easter message about returning to our own personal Galilees . . . and it slowly dawned on me that my Galilee was the old call (if I ever had a call) to teaching in a Catholic school. It turns out that the longing is still there.
The second trigger came one evening later, when an old friend, who has always believed in me as a teacher, even after seeing me through the incredible failure that was my only attempt, gently pointed out that all the "reasons" I had been citing for not trying again no longer exist. Not when I can literally afford to quit my job before the next school year starts so I can take the necessary new courses for accreditation.
But it was through this current job that the third trigger came, during a discussion with an Italian trainee . . .
"In the past," he said, "you were poor because you chose to be poor by not working. Today, you can be poor even if you work fourteen hours a day or have two jobs. And meanwhile, the number of millionaires is growing."
It had occurred to me, as service-oriented and self-sacrificial as I am, that I earn the same amount of money for a good training session and an average training session . . . and that my CEO assigns the same monetary value to a thorough training report and a thoughtlessly written one. Accordingly, I've been pulling back at work and am planning on pulling back some more. Not for the principle of the thing (though this is the real battlefield), but for the sake of my blog. Yes, seriously.
Katie chose her blog over burning out at uni and I'm choosing my blog over burning out at work, because we get the difference between a lifestyle that nourishes us as we support ourselves and a lifestyle that sucks nourishment for itself from us, leaving us with no support. This isn't about choosing to fiddle away the summer instead of storing up food for the winter--not in our world, where you store up a silo's worth of supplies in order to make someone else a millionaire. If you're going to struggle anyway, then you might as well struggle doing something you love that also loves you back.
Image Source: Ball Pit demotivational poster