Nine weeks till lift off.
I hear you’re leaving [sad pouting pity face] so sorry to hear that. What will you do..?
This question is posed daily. Usually in the lift. Usually by someone I sort of know in passing but who doesn’t know me in the slightest.
I ought to have cards ready for this sort of encounter. A pack of
I don’t care
It’s what I wanted
I don’t know but I can’t do this anymore
Please leave me alone.
My answer today to the latest such enquiry – concerned face, head cocked to one side, bottom lip extruded, could burst into tears at any moment – was
*shrug* I dunno. Live, mebbe? Not trudge into work every day to be seen to be present sitting in a bleak office staring at a computer achieving little of any real value? Maybe be of worth to the world? Actually do something useful and fulfilling with whatever time I have left on the planet? [cue Choose Life music]
This, apparently, is not the right answer to the what will you do?! question.
My interrogator stared for a few seconds, presumably waiting for me to chuckle and explain how really I’d be taking an Interim Role in Public Engagement for a London Borough so that she could stop doing Sad and put on her I’m So Happy For You face.
When I ventured nothing further, the sad face became increasingly concerned; the head cocked a few more degrees, the brow further furrowed.
But WHAT WILL YOU DOOOOOOOO?!
Knowing redundancy is looming, I’ve had well-meaning people send all manner of job opportunities in my direction – many of them a variation on what I do now, along with miscellaneous other things; everything from supermarket shelf-filling through to being a Head Teacher on a remote Scottish Island. (The last, admittedly, being pretty attractive; alas I’m not qualified.)
People are worried for me.
I must put myself to work. It doesn’t matter what the work is. Work is work. To have no concrete plans as to how I’ll Earn My Living – my right to exist and breathe the oxygen on my home planet – is making almost everyone feel very nervous Indeed.
As far as I can tell, there are only two ways to enjoy life for life’s sake:
- Be sufficiently wealthy to not need an income – a sign that you’ve either Worked Very Hard and are therefore a Very Good Person or were born into wealth, in which case your family are Very Good People and you clearly deserve everything you have.
- Be an adventurer cycling/running/walking around the world, blogging about your experiences and inspiring everyone to Believe in Their Dreams.
Both of these ideals are impossible for most of us, although we can live vicariously through such individuals: my life is a drudge, but plenty of other people are living the dream so maybe, just maybe, one day I will too! All I need are Determination, Resilience, Tenacity, to Believe in Myself and To Work Hard – and of course be born in a Western nation not besieged by war with ready access to food, water, shelter, education and health care.
And no, Living Within Your Means and Doing More with Less aren’t ways to enjoy life. Those are just ways to survive. They’re stories sold to those with nothing by those that have plenty.
People are right to worry. I have a mortgage, a massive pile of debts, and pets to feed. I need an income.
I inhabit a world where being a productive and valuable member of society is measured by the existence of both a regular salary and a happy bank manager.
We’re all in the same boat.
I don’t want to be in the boat any more. I’ve had enough. I’m ready to jump overboard and swim for it. Take my chances. Maybe I’ll be eaten by sharks, maybe I’ll drown, maybe I’ll discover an uncharted island where I can live out the rest of my days in hermit-like contentment with a rugby ball for company.
You see, at 44 I now understand how aging works; blink, and a decade passes. I can’t waste any more time.
No. I don’t yet know how I’ll earn the money I’m required to earn. I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep living in my flat. Maybe I will move elsewhere where property is cheaper and life is less crowded.
I don’t know.
For now, I’m writing this. Perhaps it’ll help people come to terms with my acceptance of uncertainty and my apparent inertia. Perhaps it’ll help me form a plan. Perhaps it’ll manifest a Fairy Godmother.
Who really knows anything about tomorrow.