It is a seams-on-the-outside. barefoot, silky boxers, and Pink Floyd kind of evening. When I have reached the point that seams in my clothing, wrinkles in my sock, or any fabric not satiny smooth against my skin feels abrasive, irritating, and almost-but-not-quite painful. The point when most sound becomes incomprehensible and cacophonous. In times past, this kind of mood was a prelude to a tiptoe along the edge of the abyss, a visit from my demons, a precursor to sleepless nights. Now it is the aftermath of a morning being where I don't want to be; working for someone else.
I am not quite sure when I became incapable of working a regular job, 40 hours a week, filling the coffers for someone else. Giving away my valuable time so someone else can pursue their dream. I think it has been a gradual awakening. It began at the office job that was an emotional black hole, and a huge trigger for what I affectionately refer to as "My Nervous Breakdown." (My Mom hates that phrase, by the way). But what that job had going for it was that I was left alone in an office about 75% of the time. All alone. Key word: Alone. Yes, the other 25% was intolerable, and I felt like I was watching the clock tick away my life in a soul-sucking dead end.
The final Awakening was when I got laid off from a job I loved. It was the understanding that as long as I was at the mercy of someone else for my paycheck and job security, that it was all just bullshit. There is no such thing as job security, you are a prisoner of the whims of another, be that owner, manager, crazy coworker. You are at the mercy of their perception of your value, of their perception of the economy, world stability, gross national product, whatever.
Today, after leaving work, Brain was running hamster circles on the wheel. Work has a way of raising my stress level, even though it isn't that stressful of a job. But there is a weird, underlying current of chaos that I shouldn't have to deal with at my pay grade. I won't go into the nagging details, the seemingly petty grievances. Leave it be said that it took 30 laps at the pool before Brain quieted, and another 30 before Body was released from the leaden stress that permeates my muscles some days. When I swim it is as if the cool water eventually rinses away the cloying, oily residue of work, letting Brain clear, and Spirit unclench.
Once Brain stopped spinning its wheels, relaxed, and let the thoughts flow, I came back to the thought that haunts me: I need to stop working for someone else. I need to find a way to free myself from the bonds of servitude. There has to be a way I can make just enough money to pay the bills without prostituting myself to an employer. I don't mind a few days working with people, but I can't manage more than a few without losing my mind.
So, here I sit, in UnderArmor boxers, my favorite running shirt that also poses as pajamas, no shoes, and Pink Floyd filling the background. I am listening to my favorite Floyd album, "Animals" and my favorite section Dogs: "Gotta admit, that I'm a little bit confused. Sometimes it seems to me as if I'm just being used. Gotta stay awake, gotta try and shake off this creeping malaise. If I don't stand my own ground how can I find my way out of this maze. Deaf, dumb, and blind you just keep on pretending that everyone's expendable, and no one has a real friend." All the lyrics on the album are even more relevant to me today than they were 35 years ago when I first heard them. Back when I was naive in thinking how grownup I was, and before I had the understanding of the world that makes me appreciate the genius of the reality behind the words. I have listened to this particular track countless times in the last year or so, the angst of trying to find your place in a cut-throat world, in the backstabbing rat race, of being forced to either run with the pack or get chased in the flock. And besides the poignant lyrics, the guitar is infectious. At the end of the album, when the Sheep rise up against their oppressors, "Bleating and babbling I fell on his neck with a scream. Wave upon wave of demented avengers marched cheerfully out of obscurity into the dream." ......Okay, I can tell I'm tired. Not only are my eyes dry and scratchy, but I am starting to have to suppress a giddy giggle as I think on the image these lyrics raise behind my eyelids. Enough rambling on the genius of Roger Waters, time to drag this boxer-clad ass to bed. It has been a long day, my dogs are telling me it is time for sleep. Maybe Brain will come up with a money making scheme while we sleep.