I have no great philosophical point about police militarization, the middle east, ISIS, race relations, or any other matter of global or national importance to make today. This morning I am simply sitting here, the only person in my office to report to work thus far this morning, overwhelmed by the completely meaningless manner in which my days are spent.
I “work in IT”. That’s what I tell people. That’s what we all tell people. “We” being the people I work with. But, the truth is we do damn little that resembles “work”. What work we actually do perform provides no personal satisfaction, at least from my perspective.
I am, once again, on a contract that is in transition. Which means that the people who were doing this job are for the most part gone, and the new group (which I am part of) have taken over. As is frequently the case in government contracting, the companies have gone out and found the lowest paid, least qualified individuals (including me) possible to fill the open positions.
Why? Because the company charges the government a rate. For the the sake of illustration let us say that the company charges $150/hour to the government for a person to fill a certain role. Let us say for example that the intended role is as a system administrator in a virtual environment. Well, the company could go out and find highly qualified, certified, experienced VMware professionals to fill those slots. But, they would have to pay those people $60-$70 an hour. So what they do instead is find someone with a general IT background, a clearance, and the necessary security certifications, hire them at $35-$40 an hour, and pocket the difference. This works out great for the profit margin. Not so great for the individual.
For the first 3-6 months you are completely buried by daily dumps of information. You document technical procedures constantly, and then someone changes them. You have a guy or two that know what they are doing, but they are so swamped (because they are the only people who know what they are doing) that they are unable to pass on knowledge to others (thus no one else can help them).
It’s a stressful situation, and I have spent much of the past 5 years moving from transition to transition. I’m getting worn down.
In the end though, things settle down. Eventually, people fall in to their roles and the workload evens out. Eventually, things get less hectic. But I think, at the heart of it, the stress I am currently experiencing is not the issue.
I continue, over the course of time, to revisit the same notion. That being, that this cannot be what my life is all about.
I comfort myself with the thought that I am making good money, paying my bills, keeping food on the table and a roof over our heads. But the reality is, what I have just described is surviving, not living.
As I write this I have “Broken” by Seether ft. Amy Lee playing in my ear buds. I have been aware of this song for some time now, but it is suddenly at the top of my play list. The more I learn or attempt to learn about playing bass, the more I am drawn to songs like this.
I sat at my house over the weekend singing along to this song and playing it on my bass, having found the custom dlc package for Rocksmith2014. Thoughts of my wife and the life we have had together these last 10 years flooding my mind. “…and I don’t feel right when you’re gone away…” I consider the time we spend apart. The coming home dead tired. The hours spent in traffic rather than watching a movie together, or eating dinner, or talking.
I am overwhelmed with the notion that in making a living I am losing the things that make life worth living in the first place. I know, and I have to some degree or another for a long time now, that what I truly want to do is touch other people the way people like this have touched me.
I cannot ascribe these thoughts to an altruistic spirit. It is not so much that I want to change lives or touch hearts because I have a burning desire to change the world. I simply want to do something meaningful and memorable. I want to feel like the time I have spent on this planet had some purpose.
I have done that which many before me have done, and what countless more will do long after I am gone. I have married, fathered children, worked a job, paid my bills, paid my taxes. I have survived, in the manner that a dog survives. I eat, I sleep, I interact with my environment. It is the notion that I will die as a dog dies that scares me. Buried in a hole with a few tears shed by a select few individuals. Remembered fondly by a couple of people, for a time. Eventually, just a picture on a bookshelf. Covered in dust. Forgotten.
Perhaps “scares me” is the wrong term. It is not fear that I feel at this moment. It is melancholy. A profound hopelessness, or even desperation, washes over me this morning as I write. And as I reread this prior to publishing it I am struck by the thought that it is not even “being remembered” that is important to me. After all, if my view of the afterlife (being that there isn’t one) is correct, I won’t know or care whether I was remembered or not. It is simply feeling as if whatever I did today was worth my time, that I think I am longing for.
People say things all the time without ever truly thinking about them. They say things like, “It’s never too late”. Yes, dear. Sometimes it is in fact too late. Whether or not it is too late for me remains to be seen. But I have come so far down the wrong road that I do not know if I have the energy, or the time, to change paths.
I was told from the time I was a young man that I had unlimited potential. The problem with that is, if your potential is unlimited you can never reach it. So, if you’re like me, you spend your whole life feeling like you have failed to be who you could have been. No matter who you are…