The Day Job: Shift Happens

Previously, I spoke about the challenges of working and writing.(The Writing Life: Keep the Day Job)

Today I want to say that I now understand why Millenials are having such a difficult time balancing their lives. Not only is it hard to find a full time jobs, the shift changes from day to day make it almost impossible to have a life outside of work.

Last year I worked as a waitress and, as hard as that was, I loved it. The hours were late and long, but consistent. The job I have now is also hard work, but my hours have no rhyme or reason to them. I work late several nights (past 11 pm) and then have to be in very early in the morning on other days. Shift changes like this make it difficult to get enough sleep every day. I felt young at my old job and now I feel old at my new job.
Millenials suffer the most, I believe, as they never knew a time when this kind of scheduling was frowned on. When I ask co-workers why the scheduling is like this they don’t seem to see it as a problem that can be overcome. They seem to be unaware that they should have better options and that means the job shouldn’t infringe on every waking moment of one’s life.

I’m sure that this sad situation arose out of a need for “flexible scheduling,” but it’s morphed over the years into a chaotic monster that shatters any ability to make plans off company time.  I often find I have no idea whether its morning or night while I’m at work – there’s no frame of reference if one starts work at 6pm one day and 8am the next. The hours blend together – endlessly in some grotesque cycle of work and sleep.

The paranoid in me wonders if it’s not a master plot by some evil HR head. To keep from having to listen to employees complain that they don’t want to work late shifts or they don’t want morning shifts – some genius decided to give everyone bizarre schedules . Then the misery is shared and no one can complain their schedule is the worst. They’re all equally bad.

Continue reading “The Day Job: Shift Happens”

The Cosmic Flower of Faith

 

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Is there a transcendent reality to our existence? Is belief in such a reality an illusion?

We live in an age where people find it difficult to discuss the supernatural at all. One of the reasons for this is that our words are changing. Definitions are being shorn of their supernatural meanings.

Take, for example, the word “cosmic“. The Merriam-Webster dictionary (online) gives us the following:

Definition of cosmic
1 a :  of or relating to the cosmos, the extraterrestrial vastness, or the universe in contrast to the earth alone  – cosmic radiation
b :  of, relating to, or concerned with abstract spiritual or metaphysical ideas – cosmic wisdom
2 :  characterized by greatness especially in extent, intensity, or comprehensiveness – a cosmic thinker – a book of cosmic significance

However, the Bing (search engine) gives us this:

cos·mic
[ˈkäzmik]
ADJECTIVE
of or relating to the universe or cosmos, especially as distinct from the earth:
“cosmic matter”

synonyms: extraterrestrial · in space · from space

inconceivably vast:
“the song is a masterpiece of cosmic proportions”

Notice the supernatural meaning is stripped from the definition. And it’s happening in other words, too. Some people think “soul” is now a person’s personality or character. The word “mind” is preferred over “psyche” as people accept that there is nothing more inside us than a mechanical brain that responds to external stimuli due to evolutionary conditioning.

For many people there is no God, no heaven or hell, no angels, no spirits at all – just the mud of the earth we are made of. When we die we decay into lifeless molecules and are absorbed back into that same Earth. It’s no wonder that the atomizing of society follows this philosophy of the atomizing of the individual. What point is there to family, religion, community if it all ends in dust? Why should we adhere to bonds between souls when the soul is a figment of the human imagination?

There is no proof we can offer that we will exist beyond death or that there is more to us than our physical bodies. However, there are arguments that point to something beyond this material universe. And this is what we call “faith.”  But, it is difficult to hold onto that faith. We may study the best arguments of humanity’s finest philosophers, but the dominate culture of this age rejects these arguments summarily.  And yet, isn’t the possibility of life after death appealing? Should it be rejected simply because it can’t be put to scientific analysis?

Faith is fragile – even for those who feel certain that God exists. First, it is hard to maintain faith in a vacuum.  Secondly, it may be that whether one believes or not in the supernatural depends on one’s personality and circumstances.

But my point is that whether one is a believer or not, the transcendent is worth spending some time studying and discussing. All references to  this (potential) aspect of our existence should not be wiped out of our vocabulary.  The difficult truth is that we will not know the truth of our existence until the moment of death. Like Schrödinger’s Cat, we will not know whether the fragile flower of faith is based on reality or not until that moment. It will be the most critical moment of our existence.

So, isn’t it worth spending a little time, while we’re alive, contemplating what our flower looks like?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Writing Life is a category on this website where I muse about life in general and writing in particular. You can find this group of posts here.

 

 

 

 

 

WORDS: Aisling (Ash-ling or Ash-leen): Vision or Dream

 

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Aisling is a word of Irish origin and is interesting for both its lyrical qualities and as an inspiration for writers.

The heavenly image of a woman appearing to warn people of impending disaster appears in many cultures. The Aisling is a form particular to Ireland.

According to Wikipedia it was a popular poetic device in centuries past.

Aisling (Wikipedia)

“In the aisling, Ireland appears to the poet in a vision in the form of a woman: sometimes young and beautiful, sometimes old and haggard. This female figure is generally referred to in the poems as a Spéirbhean (heavenly woman; pronounced [ˈspʲeːɾʲ.vʲanˠ]). She laments the current state of the Irish people and predicts an imminent revival of their fortunes, usually linked to the return of the Roman Catholic House of Stuart to the thrones of Britain and Ireland.”

Unfortunately, the word “Aisling” is behind the paid wall at the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, but Wikipedia provides some interesting insights making the word as a name.

Wikipedia: Aisling (name)

“Aisling is an Irish language feminine given name meaning “dream” or “vision” and referring to an aisling, a poetic genre that developed during the late 17th and 18th century in Irish language genre poetry. Aisling was not used as a given name before the 20th century.

“There are many variant forms of the name, including Ashling, Aislin, Aislinn and Aislene.[1] Pronunciation of the name also varies, with the most common pronunciation being /ˈæʃlɪŋ/ ASH-ling; other forms acceptable to Irish speakers are /ˈæʃlɪn/ ASH-lin and /ˈæʃliːn/ ASH-leen.”

The first Wikipedia entry above goes on to say that this type of poetry was so popular that it eventually became a subject of satire and parody. It seems to me that most supernatural or paranormal stories these days fall into that category. The TV series Supernatural and movies like Michael come to mind. In this age, we tend to camp up our supernatural stories because our cultural is uncomfortable with ideas of life beyond death. And yet, a good portion of humanity today believes strongly in supernatural visions of a woman (Marian Apparitions).

For a writer, there are worlds, both psychological and spiritual, to explore and expand on.  😉

 

For more WORDS for Writers, click HERE

The Writing Life: Keep the Day Job

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We would all like to ditch the day job, but some of us must face that bothersome reality: the human need to eat.

I have recently reentered the job market after raising my children. To say that it’s changed a great deal over the past 30 years is an understatement. I have a lot to say about that, but in this post I want to talk about the day job and the creative process.

First of all, why do we write? For me, it’s for two reasons. The first is to make sense of life. By trying to put words to paper, I must make sense of the world around me. That’s not a small task, but it helps me to understand my own life.

Secondly, I want to connect with other people. Those who create art are trying to communicate something. Why do humans do that? Why do we feel the need to connect with complete strangers? Is it just an instinct that developed from the evolutionary process or is something more than that? Is there a spiritual component for our itch to create? This is the theme of most of my writing.

In any event, working the day job has advantages beyond the practical one of money. Writing (or artwork) is generally a lonely process. Going to a day job puts you in contact with other people. It keeps you connected to their problems and their dreams. You can add so much to your creations by paying attention to these things.

Another thing is that the break from writing can actually give you time to think about the problems you are working out in your stories. The brain continues to work on problems even while you are engaged in manual work. When you get back to your writing you have to reorient yourself to where you are in your story and hopefully some time away from it will make it clearer what is missing.

Now, sadly, it is very hard to keep a day job and persist at art at the same time. It takes discipline to carve out some time to get back to it. Also, it means putting other things on hold – like sleep and housework. It takes effort to prioritize your art above these other needs. People can see the dirty dishes, but they can’t see the progress you’ve made on paper – so we find it hard to justify the time spent on invisible things.

This is why so few stick to their art. We do the thing we “need” to do, rather than the things we “should” do. It’s hard to prioritize your spiritual dreams above your physical needs. Finding that balance between living and creating is not an easy path.

So, why not just give up? We say to ourselves “no one will ever see this, only I will ever know it exists.” But, that brings us back to why we do it in the first place. Deep inside us there is a need to make sense of life and to communicate the results of that search to others. We create and we are changed in the process. And as we change, hopefully becomes something good we can offer to others.

We hardly know how we affect the lives of others for good or bad, so we should strive to keep getting better at everything we do. Even if no one ever sees our creative work they see what we’ve become in the process.

It’s possible that our best work, in the end, is ourselves.

So, keep the Day Job, but don’t give up on the Dream. 😉