“Anything can be open to interpretation. It’s what drives people mad.” JSM
One winter afternoon in 2012 I was running some numbers through a spreadsheet on my computer at work, doing the ol jobby job, and a random thought slapped me across the face; and it hit me hard. I’m not certain what brought on the subconscious inquiry, but it happened regardless.
I’ll go further with the thought in a moment, but it was one of those eye opening experiences that sent a shudder through my body where I sat. Goosebumps rose and fell across the neck and scalp. I placed my hands on the arms of the swivel chair, relaxed into the leather and stared at the ceiling lights above my office floor.
I pondered for quite some time before returning to my duties. When I sat in silence and thoroughly considered the variables, I felt relieved afterwards. Some inner peace returned.
I’ve come to enjoy those kinds of experiences.
Each experience from person to person is diverse and complex, and no one experience is equal or identical to another. Our individual experiences are like snowflakes. My divorce was probably not the same as another couple’s split-up. My educational experiences, most certainly different. My upbringing. My childhood. My religious history. My odd jobs and employment. My thoughts and beliefs. Your experiences are not mine, and vice versa. Perhaps we’ll have similarities which puts us in that area of middle ground, yet they’re still vastly different.
So when the thought smacked me in the head and directed me to stop what I was doing and think about it, I really stopped and thought about it. However, the experience was mine and it may not mean a thing to anyone else.
Though, I’m hoping it will in some way or another.
While I was hammering through my work routine, the random thought directed me to the calculator and a sheet of paper. I snatched up a pen and dug up old records on the computer and opened multiple windows on the screen for easier viewing. I compiled data on the sheet and punched in numbers on the calculator and when all was said and done, glancing over the results a third time, adding in miscellaneous variables just in case, subtracting and adding as needed, the total I accumulated was circled at the bottom of the page.
Seems like an arbitrary number not knowing the context.
The number produced was the estimated total of people in my community, and beyond, in which my employment positively affects the lives of others. Without the work I do, even on an administrative level with minimal interaction(s), the immediate livelihoods of roughly 400 people are somehow affected.
When I considered the size of the number after the math, I couldn’t help but think about it in greater detail.
Then I broke it down into minutia.
Even if the work only affected twenty people, and the work or lifestyle of even six of those twenty, positively affects the lives of others in some way, the number still has the potential to grow, and grow and grow. Perhaps even to the point of branching out indefinitely.
There was a strange sensation of comfort when returning to my responsibilities. When I had the opportunity to dig a little under the surface of my calcified mind and discover something I’d never considered before, it subtly manipulated my train of thought. What I do in life, can in some way shape or form, work towards the benefit of others.
After work, engaging in the chores at home, I brought the thought to a more personal level.
How many can I affect in a positive way within my immediate circle of friends and family? Eleven? Twelve? And if I have a positive impact on “their” lives in some fashion, how many are being affected outward from there? Again, the number can branch out to infinity. The positive energy can be projected beyond the boundaries of self, and others will feed from that energy.
Negative energy will garnish the same results. Project the negative, and it too will be fed upon.
I believe the infinite universe, stardust and cosmic explosions has tightened up and restricted our concepts of individual importance.
Hey, the above picture may be truth, but should it detract us from feeling important?
Once I put some thought into it, I realized that while I may be small within the infinity of the cosmos, despite a feeling of uselessness, being a singular nothing among seven billion others struggling to maintain, devoid of purpose, searching aimlessly for the point of the routine, I could still project positive energy and keep affecting the lives of 400 people and those within my circle. I had control of my immediate universe around me and that was the extent of it. That’s where the focus should be.
I’d rather believe and think and feel as though I have some importance to others, even in a small way, than a pathetic insignificant speck of dust floating through space with no reason for being. Despite the size of the universe… Sorry. I’ll pass. It’s a pill I can’t swallow and I only speak for myself.
Perhaps that’s what I needed to understand. I had to dissolve the me-me-me mentality and change up my thinking. I had to get out of the box. I had to look at life with a “greater good” philosophy, despite my situation.
At the Island that night, contemplating options that didn’t exist, my anger was about to take care of the problem for me. The greater good never once crossed my mind. I was locked into self gratification by projecting negative energy.
I’d feel a bit better later that night.
Sitting in the driver’s seat, I clenched my fists and felt heat spread across my face and neck. My ears hot, my heart thumped, my fingertips tingled, and I was at a crossroad of thought.
If you leave this driveway, there’s no turning back. You’ll feel better for five minutes. Wait. Put the car in park. Stop moving.
Why don’t you stay put, turn off the ignition, go inside, sleep it off, and try to negotiate something tomorrow morning.
I’ve always talked myself down from the edge. Once I give myself the moment to breathe, think, and be away from the problem, I come to my senses and relax. I impulsively follow the bad idea, prepare myself to follow through, then change my mind at the last possible second. I allow the red of anger to blind me momentarily, before seeking the logical venue instead.
That, and I’m not violent. Quite passive to be honest. I’d rather be a lover than a fighter. I can bring myself to anger, but I rarely act on it. If readers were expecting a violent interaction along this leg of the journey, my apologies.
Most of my violence is all in my head.
I slammed the door to the safe house and breezed by the computer. Another email. “What is it this time? Do I have to leave tonight? Can it wait till morning? Should I try sleeping in my car?”
Instead, it was a brief follow up statement attached to the original message. I sat down slow, clicked it open, and came to some realizations upon reading it.
The contents were a justification of my eviction.
“I have a six person family, children included, in need of help before winter hits. Things are bad.”
Things are bad? Hey, I have a family too.
But your family is extended and people will help with the kids when needed. The kids will always have a place to be.
You have to prove you’re a good providing dad.
Winter’s going to affect me too. Why should I be tossed out before the cold season with nowhere to go?
But… it’s a family of six. With children. Get it now? Don’t put your situation above anyone. Their needs take precedence over yours. Keep packing and get ready to couch bounce again. It’s time to think of others for awhile.
“I understand. I’ll be out by the end of the weekend.” I hesitated before pressing send, but not for long. I hit the button, closed the laptop, and attempted a solid night sleep.
It eluded me. I tossed and turned. I felt better, but all I could vision was a future where I would never again land flat on my feet.
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