This I Believe …
Life is Not Worth Living (Unless you’re Very Lucky)
That’s a bummer, I know. These essays are supposed to be inspirational. This one is not. This one is about me who is beyond being inspired by anybody.
When I was young, I found that liked government. I went into it as a staff in the state legislatures. I worked there for 18 years. I think I was good at it too. I had plenty of innovative ideas that I saw through to implementation. I treated my staff in what I knew was an enlightened manner.
But, I then ran afoul of one single legislator who made it his business to, “get you no matter how long it takes.” Eventually, he traded his vote in exchange for an agreement from powerful legislators to fire me.
After I was out, I learned that anyone who asked what had happened to me was told that, “He did something awful but, for confidential reasons, what I did couldn’t be revealed.” I lost at least one job because the same legislators actively intervened to prevent me from getting another employment. I was not just out — I was to be crushed.
I was then 50 years old. I then found that nobody has much time for you at that age. I had three college degrees but I soon learned that that very expensive education wasn’t worth anything then. My parents, who worked to give me “good education” as the ticket to a bright future, would have been surprised to learn that my education seemed to be worth nothing at all.
I tried re-tooling myself for a new profession. After yet more expensive education, I found that I had picked the wrong new profession. Jobs folded underneath me one after another as whole companies failed. The only amelioration was that this time I had plenty of company. My compatriots, at least, were young enough to move on yet again.
I find myself now out of any work and afraid that I will run out of my savings before I die.
Because I am at loose ends, I have had the time to look around. I found that I was not alone. Lots of other people who had somehow, “crapped out” in the game of life. There was a long litany of lethal problems: failed health; bad marriages; deaths of close personal friends and even children; stultifying employment; maniac bosses; just being “different;” and a seeming endless list of other possibilities that seemed to grow longer by the day. And even the little blue pills, intended to lift depression, no longer helped. It seems clear that the longer anyone lives, the more likely that something really bad will happen to him or her that sucks any possibility of joy out of the rest of life. Some people are lucky and go through their entire lives without a lethal problem. But, for most, it’s just a matter of when that lethal problem will happen.
Some months back, I ran into a friend from legislative days. He asked, “How are you doing?” I started to tell him that I wan’t “doing” at all well. Then, from the look of horror on his face, I learned that it was but a social question. He didn’t want to hear what I was starting to say. So, I cut it off. I’ve run into him several times since and he obviously learned never to ask, “How are you doing?”
This last misadventure was unfortunate. I really want to tell someone that “things aren’t going well” and to have him or her listen. They don’t have to have any answers but someone to listen to me would be nice.
In case anyone should care, I’m not suicidal. The little blue pills have helped that, at least. So don’t dial 9-1-1. But I also know that should some doctor tell me that, “You have terminal disease,” I’m sure that I’d respond, “That’s good to hear.”
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