I am going crazy this week. I can't get the whining out of my head! I have one of those jobs and lives where I see the haves and the have-nots in the same hour. I experience the comfort of choice and stability and then the unsettling and unimaginable world of insecurity and fear. Part of this is by choice and part is the rushing river of life of inspiration I navigate everyday.
I spent Wednesday evening with low-income immigrant mothers in South LA, who were being trained on how to advocate on behalf of their kids at school. Women who are literally and figuratively hungry for a better life for their children. Thursday I toured an amazing art collection created by disadvantaged but clearly talented elementary school children. I talked to three people who were laid off and who are struggling with their job searches. I counseled a former colleague of mine who had to do her first layoff, she was a wreck. I paid my taxes! :) It was a week of reality and humanity.
And for every pain, moment of anguish, and touch of inspiration there was an offsetting and upsetting sound of unwarranted whining. The kind of gratuitous whining that is expressed with no regard to how offensive it sounds. That whining of entitlement and arrogance that shows off the worst side of this country. Let me regale you with the whines of my week (imagine each one as the sound of fingernails on a blackboard building on one another)
- Father complains to me that his son did not get into his PhD of choice and had to settle for his second choice where he will get a full ride! And he was serious.
- Woman tells me in one moment how hard it was to get a job, but after 60 days it clearly is the wrong job for her and she planned to quit. She asked for my help.
- A young man tells me he has a fantastic job but feels that ageism has prevented his promotion in his first year.
- I read that myflife, a stream of commiserating anecdotes and reactions about the bad luck and misfortunes of teens is growing in popularity.
- An acquaintance turns down a job interview to run a non-profit because the $250,000 salary was way too low.
I keep hearing the Michael Franks' lyric I don't know why I am so happy I am sad. I am nauseous from bloated and unrealistic expectations of the world--how much it owes us. I am exhausted by the lack of recognition of the value of what we have and our inability to optimize the experiences. I am angered by the greed and selfishness that seems to drive us. Here's some comic relief from my negativity, watch this video:
So maybe this rant could be considered whining, but I really reached my limit. Okay I feel better now. I guess what is bothering me is the lack of recognition of the environment we are in. These instances of Woe is Me in light of the real pain and suffering around us is rude and ignorant. The goal today is to survive to thrive. It is to make the most out what we are given and build a reputation on patience and ingenuity out of it. It is not instant gratification time or where Super-sizing makes sense any more. And if you have what you need, not what you want, then you should be expanding your network to help others get what they need.
NY Times featured Daniel Miller, a Wharton Business student who was contemplating rabbinical school, had suspended his job search, intent on savoring his last few weeks before graduation. I like his perspective.
“I have the next 60 years of my life to worry about work,” he said. “I’m fortunate I don’t have any college debt and have a very supportive family. I can’t imagine what it’s like for someone less fortunate than me.”
I think Louis CK is right on. Everything is amazing! And we have to minimize the whining by valuing our realities and not our fantasies.
Thanks for reading and aiding my catharsis! John