It’s a Good Life if You Don’t Weaken

As I sit here playing Fallout 4, on bed rest because of this lung infection that I’ve had for two months and haven’t taken care of until last week, I have the volume turned down on the TV. Any sound that I’m hearing is coming from the windows outside, and from the music that I have playing on my phone. Specifically, I am listening to the Phantom Power album by the Tragically Hip.

Much like millennium, mentioned in a previous post, this music brings me back to a specific time in my life, made golden by the light of memory. The first song I ever heard by The Tragically Hip was Bobcaygeon. It was about 4:30 in the morning at the time of year when the sun starts to rise a bit later each day.

I was depressed, heartbroken, and within a month of fully giving up on life. I hadn’t slept in a week, and my thoughts were barely my own. I had MuchMoreMusic on, because it played calmer music than MuchMusic. Bobcaygeon came on, and I was instantly hooked. The mood, the solitude, the mental state, all could have contributed; and might not have. I’ll never really know.

What I do know is their music helped to carry me to somewhere more stable so I could carry on. This was nearly twenty years ago, and yet memories are burned into my brain, indelible, of sitting in the wan morning light and hearing Gord Downie’s calm sonorous voice. Walking along the bridge west of Celeste at 11 at night after leaving Leon’s house, and Don’t Wake Daddy was just starting up as my boots crunched through the thin sheets of ice on the sidewalk.

Specific moments, frozen in time by one band, as no other has done.

I don’t generally cry when people die, particularly celebrities, as overall I feel like they’re going on to better things. I cried when I read that Gord’s cancer was terminal. I cried through their last concert. I cried when he died. I’m getting misty just writing this.

His job wasn’t nearly done. He left a hole in the world when he left. He was one of few true and pure voices of love and decency.

He will be missed, but memories and music are forever.

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You can McFeast in Valhalla

This might be a long one. I’m also trying a new format, where I link to the things I’m referencing.

There’s an ever-growing and obnoxious subgroup of people. They walk around looking tired or stressed, and will tell anyone around them that they only slept two hours last night, or that they didn’t even sleep at all. In a group, they compete over who has worked the most hours on the least sleep. I’ve done it before. I once stayed up for six days straight(working a night shift at a prison). By night four, I was pouring an entire 80 Hour Energy(citrus-y heaven in a bottle) into a Mountain Dew twice a night. The flavor alone could wake the dead. I called my Sergeant at 3 AM on night seven, because I had begun hallucinating. I was seeing cat people wandering the pods. I had been the first book in the Tide Lords series, by Jennifer Fallon, and apparently the slave race in that book had embedded itself in my mind.

I digress. I was running on caffeine, yes, but I was also sustained by the knowledge that others knew the sacrifice I was making of my relationship with sleep. Look what I’m doing for my professional life, at the expense of my health. It’s fairly childish, along the lines of twice-as-much-in-the-same-place, uphill-both-ways. It’s kind of jumped the shark, too. More and more, people are complaining about that person. Not only do they not want to be compared to that person by the company, but they don’t want to deal with that person either.

This Wakeful Warrior tends to survive on caffeine and junk food. They run to McDonald’s or the local gas station, or, if they can’t leave the premises, the vending machines will have to suffice. Rarely do you see this person bring a lunch from home. They’re too busy hustling. While their health declines, though, their profits don’t often go up in a commensurate manner. That’s okay. Sleep is for the weak. They’ll McFeast in Valhalla.

Thing is, balance is what’s necessary. Many millionaires will tell you that they did work harder or longer than the average person, but not by much. Their work/life balance was still in order. Listen to the Dave Ramsey Show long enough, and you’ll find that he talks to a lot of millionaires who made it theirs through consistency, rather than destroying their body or mind for it. People making 60K a year as a couple. Ordinary people.

In Bronnie Ware’s Regrets of the Dying, in which she has spent years speaking to those on their deathbed, it is notable that Working Too Much is second only to Living to the Expectations of Others. Oddly enough, the two go hand in hand.

That guy at the office, talking about how little sleep he’s working on, or how many doubles he’s done this week, seems to be fishing for compliments. Or sympathy. He’s trying to outshine everyone else’s expectations of themselves. He’s trying to outrun the company’s expectations of him. If he were only doing it for himself, he wouldn’t talk about it every day. He’ll be lucky if he gives himself time to regret it.

I’m currently experiencing my own state of cognitive dissonance in the wake of my recent job loss. My wife decided to go out and find herself a job that exactly replaces the wages lost from mine, and it’s a cushy one, too. She decided it was high time that I stayed home and got a few books written while I keep the house up. I want to do that, and plan on taking advantage of it, but the role I’ve played for so long and the expectations of those around me are causing me to be irrational about the situation. I need to stay focused on what’s best in the long run, as my writing will likely yield far more than any job I could get.

In the long run.

Here’s hoping I can find some balance.

For now, I’m signing off.