The cashier refuses to let you have it your way, avoiding your eyes she points to the clock and says: It’s after eleven and we have to stop serving it that way at eleven. Or some other ridiculous claim. She doesn’t love her job. She doesn’t think about better ways to serve. When she clocks out she is physically gone, but her mind and heart were never there in the first place.
Whether you’re a frustrated dancer doing time in a fast-food restaurant or an art-school reject causing global havoc leading a Nazi army of fellow discontents, so much wasted energy can be better directed if only we choose to inhabit the place we truly yearn to be.
Here’s a theory: The world is like a giant machine, like a clock, and we are the cogs. Because many of us are not synced up with our true desires the machine is not correctly calibrated. We sense this mis-alignment when we are in situations like the one mentioned above. But not only in the workplace.
I would venture to guess that so many of the problems that humanity causes itself – infidelity, abuse, discontent, crime in general, ineffectiveness in general, apathy in general, dishonesty and suspicion in general – are in large part caused because we feel disconnected with our true calling. Another way to say it is that we don’t see our values reflected in our world and so we reject it often by treating it and others as unfairly as we feel it and they are treating us.
The girl behind the counter is not only not connecting with us, but she is using the very tool that she feels is being used against her as a tool enabling her to ineffectively serve us. The student forced to sit in classes that he has no interest in spews out behavior that reflects what he perceives as the same rejection and disrespect that he is on the receiving end of.
When we are able to behave like a centered, beneficent “flow-finding” individual we are able to rise above our feeling that the world doesn’t care about us, but we’re human and so often times a one-size-fits-none world, school, corporation, town etc instead prompts us to behave non-productively.
Let’s face it, changing society at large is probably an insurmountable task, but changing ourself as an individual to recognize that much of the world is one-size-fits-none. The argument against this might be that the world only needs so many major-league baseball players, ballerinas etc. But one thing I’ve discovered in taking A Day On is that many, many, many of us – even those of us in “desirable” positions are often dreaming about being somewhere else. The shift I’m talking about, if it could happen instantaneously, would be like an enormous game of musical chairs. Everyone would shift over one spot and the machine would be calibrated.
A friend who visited the Soviet Union when it still was under socialist rule told me a story about trying to purchase things at the end of the month. “It was impossible. You couldn’t get waited on because the salespeople had already met their quotas and didn’t want to sell another item thus raising their quota for next month.” It’s an example of a how systems that focus only on increasing capacity rather than on serving human needs – both customers and employees lead to anti-productive interactions.
When I was reading a lot of Jung I discovered that “the Average” may describe all Man but at the same time it describes no man. It seemed Jung’s message and perhaps the message of this post is that each of us must find our own meaning in the world’s message to us. The world is not one of those old video games where you must follow the same predetermined path. Look out the window and consider the literally unlimited possibilities offered to your today. You are completely unlimited and so very free! For instance, I’m looking out my window at a seemingly limited space- a fenced backyard. But that’s only at first glance. I could climb over that fence and go to that house I always see out there. I could knock on the door and suddenly a million new possibilities are offered to me.
My dad always seemed troubled when we heard stories of suicide. He used to say to me by means of explanation: “I guess they feel that their life has just closed in around them.” I think he meant that they had stopped seeing all possibilities. Career choice isn’t usually a single decision or failure of decision. It’s often times – and I know for me – it had been a series of compromises. I usually began by setting the bar much lower than what I really wanted and then compromised repeatedly from that point on. I drifted from job to job the way some people find themselves passed from one abusive relationship to another. (Kinda makes you understand how that can happen!)
It’s time for all of us to wake up to the real breadth of possibilities available to us in our lives. There are an infinite amount of paths – we needn’t cling to the one that has been chosen for us!
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