May 11 2019
In many ways the uncertainty I feel mirrors the uncertainty we all feel. The question is, what do we do with this uncertainty? I am 46 and I am making a career change. But what will come of it? How many people in their late 40s make a career change who have little or no support—who do not have an advocate to help open a few doors? Sure, once you get through the door it is up to you—at least in theory—but how many people will do this, given they are struggling because they are unsure and uncertain about their future?
As the social forms change, new ideas of social value emerge. New ideas of success, of failure, of love and hate, of how we treat each other, for example, a new understanding of equality. But none of these transformations are smooth, because for one, the values can be perceived as incompatible (i.e., individual right vs. collective rights) and secondly any shift in understanding is not undertaken as a single step that we all make together. So there is change, there is possibility and there is uncertainty.
The question I face is how to live with uncertainty as something that cannot be remedied. The idea of having enough to feel secure makes sense, but it is only ever periodic in my life. I will have contract and things will be okay then there is a down time and I am struggling to manage debt. Then, when a new contract comes a long, I try to pull myself out of the hole I had to dig. This cycle continues and then I wonder, do I make a switch? Do I try a new career? I think about my age, my experience—being in the arts—and wonder: how can I make a switch to a new career at my age. I think about the kind of job. I wonder. I am uncertain.
This uncertainty, of feeling like there is little I can count on is reflected in my personal relationships as well. At least for me, I feel like everyone I know is struggling and they are in no position to help me just as I am in no position to help them. Sure, we can say encouraging words, we can maybe give some money, but we are not a community, at least not in the sense that we rise and fall together. Yes, we in fact do rise and fall together, but we do not see it that way because we see our value and rights in individual terms. As such, our power is perceived as individual power and not as collective power.
For example, when we vote we vote for our own interests, not the interests of people in other social situations that are alien to us. Even if we care, we just aren’t invested in a community that includes them—we have our own issues. So we vote based upon our own needs.
I won’t get into how the electorate have been willfully manipulated by the sophistic statements of politicians because the duplicity on a political level is mirrored in our day to day lives. We seek out the simple and direct solution even if that means exclusions that are classist, racists, sexist, and so on. But it’s not as simply as saying “we are the government” because we are not, however, we can choose to govern ourselves.
The challenge I face is very much focused on how to live the individual life. In troubled times I turn to me not community; or rather, I turn to a community of shadows. To authors and artists, to philosophers and thinkers, from both times past and now. I do not turn to the news, I do not turn to acquaintances, I do not turn to slogans. And I do not turn to my family. In large part this is my personality—I tend to go my own way. So it is interesting, and perhaps even ironic that a person like me—who spends much of their time alone—would spend so much time thinking about community. And the reason for this is simple. Even as a loner—as an outsider—I am still very much dependent upon community, even if what “community” is for me, or means to me, is different for me than it is for others. I still need the support and encouragement, I still need the stability and certainty, I still need, in short, the fundamental things we all need. And this is the point, even though we are all different, and even though our needs and interests, may be different—or seem different—we still need a foundation that includes us. We still need a home, a community; we still need a safe foundation.
So as I think about a new career, as I struggle with what this will all mean, I struggle with the underlying question: can I find a foundation in my life?