Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blue Skies Shining On Me...

[[switching to first person]] This was going to be a post about Dontrelle Willis. I was going to write about him because I was relating to his story on how he was on top of the world and now he's barely clinging to his career and his dreams of a major league career. I was connecting to his story because I too was on top of the world and lost it and now am lost and afraid just as I am sure he is. But then the feelings kept nagging at me until they didn't make any sense. Those feelings understood that no matter how Willis struggles, no matter how depressing his loss of control and command get, he will still be paid millions of dollars. Money can't buy happiness. We all know that. But it can make the disappointments a lot more comfortable.

There are millions of people out there who are worse off than I am. This fact I am painfully aware of and know that I could always be worse off. I could be starving. I could be living in a shack after my world was blown away in hurricane or an earthquake. My country could be torn by war and everything I had known about life could be lost in the rubble of war. But even knowing these things, my mind is troubled and my spirit sags.

I even know that there are millions in this country that have lost in the past few years. Many have homes that are now worth much less than what they paid for them. Many have lost them in foreclosures. 1.2 million people lost their unemployment benefits when Congress failed to pass an extension. The vote lost by two votes. What are those 1.2 million people doing now? Much the same as me I expect.

The difference is that they lost their jobs through no fault of their own. I gave mine up. I still think I did the right thing. But circumstances make me doubt. Let me explain. The company I helped found was bought by a larger fish. That happens every day. This company knew of my experiences and wanted me to go to Georgia. They begged me to. But there was one thing that I couldn't get past. My children. If you are a loyal reader, you may know that I lost my dad when I was ten. My children live with their mom a few towns over from here. I didn't want them to lose their dad too. Sure, I would have been well off enough to fly them down once a month or once every two months or for the summer. But what kind of parenting is that? I couldn't bear it and I couldn't do it. So I stayed.

I had it all worked out. I had started a business that I felt strongly about. I felt confident since if I had done it before for a business someone else had owned, I could do it for myself too. But despite a good plan and despite being good at at what I do, starting a business that makes things people don't really need in a deep depression when nobody has discretionary income (and those that have it are afraid to spend it) has turned out problematic. I chose a business that has high costs and when the sales aren't there, those costs are deadly.

And so I feel like I did the right thing. I turned down easy money and comfort for what I felt was the correct thing to do. And so here I am. The business isn't contributing. We are scraping by somehow on my wife's teacher's salary. I, who used to be the breadwinner, am totally dependent and contribute nothing. The thing is, I know this business can work if it had just a little more capital and the country could ease into better times. But I've run out of time.

And so the writing was on the wall and I started looking for work this week. There are no professional companies here. Well, there are two or three pseudo ones but they understand the depressed nature of northern Maine and can get away with paying well below typical wages. And even they have little use for a middle-aged, long-haired, overweight guy like me no matter what I have done in my past. There were a few good jobs in the paper. They paid 10 or 11 dollars an hour. I put in the resumes. Had an interview today and it probably went well. But none of them are what I want to do. Doesn't look like there's much choice though.

Have you ever had the feeling that you are doing what you are supposed to be doing but nothing seems to work out? It kind of feels like Ralph Cramdon on the old Honeymooners show. I've hit a wall. I think I write a really good blog. I work hard at it. I spend hours on research. My grammar is good. My voice is least if I look at it objectively. But I'm stuck on you forty wonderful readers that seem to come every day. And it isn't that I don't appreciate you. It's just disappointing there aren't more. It's kind of like the Tampa Bay Rays. They appreciate their loyal fans. There just isn't enough of them to pay the bills. The blog has hit a wall. But I still believe in my ability and I am not going to quit. Besides, it keeps me close to what I love. Baseball.

The same is true for my business. Even if I get a job [[sigh]] I'll work long into the night making books. All I need is one hit, right?

My wife is the bomb. She is indefatigable. She is not a churchgoer, but her faith is amazing. She still believes in me and in us and in our future. I wish I could shine back to her that same faith. But the truth is that my heart hurts. It's hard for a man. So much of our self-esteem is based on our earnings and being able to make our own way in this world. I am wayward and lost at the moment. My faith is a tiny slip like holding on tenaciously to a greased pole. But I'm not going to let go. I can't. It's not in me to have nothing to believe in.

I think I am depressed too. It's hard to keep on task and that's a sure sign. But that makes me mad because that's stupid. I can't afford that right now. I am beating those thoughts with a stick because I don't have the time for it.

So why am I pouring all this stuff on you faithful readers? I don't know really. I just needed to let them all out because I tend to internalize everything until it eats my insides out. And writing is what I do best so the best way to communicate my internal struggles is to type them. A famous writer once said, "How do I know what I think until I see what I wrote?" That resonates with me. Besides, a part of me is afraid of pouring these things out to my wife. I don't want to damage her faith and her resolve.

Many of you have become friends to me. I know you are out there and I write these posts in hopes that I will make it worth your trip. That's probably not the case with this opus, but you'll have to forgive me for that. If prayer is a part of your life, please pray for me as I feel very lost. If that isn't your bag, at least send warm thoughts in my direction and that would be appreciated.

I promise tomorrow's posts will get back on their merry way...

1 comment:

Josh Borenstein said...

I hope things pick up for you, William. I really do.