Thanks to the Dude, abiding; in two parts.

Part 1. This ambivalence will not stand, man.

My job bores me. Period. There is really very little about it that holds, or even hints at, anything even remotely resembling interest for me anymore… never mind passion. And I realize this is not a unique phenomenon; many people find themselves in this precarious situation at some point in their work lives.

On the one hand, you know, that is ok; it is a good job in that it is reasonably straightforward, it is secure, it pays well, I like the people I work with. But for this to go on, there simply has to be more than that. The idea of existing as little more than an automaton for an undefined period of time has long ago driven me to drink.

Yesterday, this went by on the facebook…


This struck me as particularly poignant as I am, essentially, in the history profession… loosely defined. Ostensibly I am in the field of cultural resources management; more specifically museum management. More realistically, warehouse management. Most of what I do has little to do with research or preservation, but rather, primarily revolves around the business of inventory management. When our collective history is reduced to making sure the things are all in their right place, well, it does little to inspire.

I am good at what I do. I know something about most of the objects in my care, some much more than that. I can generally, and with relative ease, locate any number of these objects at a moment’s notice, because I have a sort of mental map of the place where they are stored. Moreover, when one of these said objects is not easily located it causes me some distress. Not necessarily out of any particular fondness for the thing generally, but rather, because, being out of place, the thing represents a breakdown of the system. It is this sort of mentality that oft times has given museum people a bad name; if nobody ever touches the things, ideally they will then always be where they are meant to be. Researchers make this difficult.

But therein lies the conundrum… if the things are not being preserved for research, then what are we doing? If we are not meant to learn something from these material remains, then what is the point of collecting them in the first place? Which brings us back around to where this started. I got into this “profession” to study the things because I liked the idea that through such efforts, one could learn something about where we have been, and perhaps with some novel insight, where we might be going… at least that is the drum beat many of us march to.

I seem to have fallen from the purer faith, as it were. More often than not, I feel like Calvin up there in thinking that in the cosmic sense none of this really matters anyway. And, it is more than likely in part due to the fact that, as described, I do not learn from the things much anymore. I just make sure that everything is in its right place.



Part 2. This depression will not stand, man.

So, just to keep things simple, I have had to fully recognize and attempt to come to terms with the fact that I suffer from periods of depression. Sometimes mild, sometimes more debilitating, always sporadic. It was that last part that kept me from fully facing the issue for so long, but in looking back at life, I have come to recognize a certain pattern in my existence. In a word, hopelessness.

Funny thing about this though, once upon a time I saw this as a beneficial, or at least positive, aspect of my character; when looking out at the world I would often think that the whole business of human existence was some mad, pointless struggle against imaginary forces, and that if we could just learn to take it easy and realize that nothing really mattered in any grand sense, that we might all become a bit more enlightened… or at the very least more relaxed.

And to some degree, I still completely ascribe to that philosophy. Just take it easy. And that is cool, but when that attitude takes a turn towards the negative, where pointlessness becomes full blown hopelessness, well then, now you are treading on thin ice. On the one hand, I could function – albeit with some grumbling – at doing something that I found pointless. I would just do the thing and move on, not taking it particularly seriously. On the other, when all things start to seem pointless, then, there seems no reason to do, or care about, anything. Enter hopelessness. This is no way to exist and certainly no way to live.

Dude-Big-LebowskiSo, having confronted this I have opted for taking a different tack… and so far, it seems to be helping.

Work is still mostly boring though. However, when, a few months back, it all started to go downhill and the pointless drudgery of organizing the things came to represent the pointless nothingness of my existence, well then I started to fail… at relationships, at self-control, at even feigning interest. Things started to slip past bleak into dangerous.Thankfully there were no rabid marmots or nihilists to confront.

The promise of summer, via the promise of spring, seems to be approaching … haltingly as it may be moving. Forward thinking leads to forward movement, and while I still generally doubt that there is much point – never mind meaning – to this business of life, outside of, you know, taking it easy at the least and hopefully being excellent to each other if nothing else, there does seem to be reason for continued hope. Maybe, if I can keep managing this relatively even keeled approach, I might even regain some inspiration… of some sort. At the very least, one can hope to be better able to abide. And, I’m doing yoga again, so that is cool.



2 thoughts on “Thanks to the Dude, abiding; in two parts.

  1. Just like the Tupperware drawers and the Wife, eh? But, when the food is all put away, we shall abide together!

  2. I am an erratic pendulum. I never really realize how low I am until I’m starting seeing that glimpse of light coming back around. As much self-awareness as I seem to have (too much!), I never really allow myself enough of an objective lens to see what’s really going on. I like to imagine that I could kick the issue and make it go away but sometimes it has teeth and kicking it isn’t beneficial.

    However, even Nietzsche, the nihilist, believed in some kind of hope. “I praise, I do not reproach, [nihilism’s] arrival. I believe it is one of the greatest crises, a moment of the deepest self-reflection of humanity. Whether man recovers from it, whether he becomes master of this crisis, is a question of his strength. It is possible. . . . ” (Nietzsche; Complete Works, Vol. 13).

    It’s hard to say whether we come back around to stronger or better selves but I have to hold on to the perspective that all experiences are valuable, even if they are negative. So long as their impact can be outweighed by the value of their contribution to the whole.

    But I’m no sage.

    In the end, focusing on taking care of ourselves (mind and body) even when we don’t want to -though a challenge- is essential. And with that, I think I will stop procrastinating and go for a run.

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