CAUTION If you find yourself in a sinkhole and can’t seem to get out, do not attempt a “selfie” Vulcan Mind Meld to feel better about yourself. Trust me on this.
The moment we settle for the “job that pays well” or the “stable job,” our ability to exercise free will is compromised.
I’m not suggesting that excellent pay and job security are not important. I have an issue with the word “settle.”
Many believe that charting a new career path that requires ending their current employment or striking out on their own is tantamount to shooting oneself in the foot. Since we need both feet for walking, people rarely do that. Unfortunately, if you don’t go after your dream early in life, you probably never will.
Humans are creatures of habit. In the natural world, they are not that much different than ants. After exploring their surroundings, ants form paths that resemble a Jackson Pollock painting until they eventually find a dead grasshopper to feed on. When something that plump and juicy suddenly appears, ants (humans) take pieces of it back to their nest (home). They share their good fortune with others (family). Ants create a “hot path” by producing scented chemicals called pheromones. Trails (transportation links) quickly form for others to follow.
Humans build highways, roads, and sidewalks increasing mobility to and from homes, workplaces, shops, etc. While using the Internet, the “web” appears to be complex at first with limitless apps and searchable sites to chose from. Complicated? Not really. These multiple pathways make our lives more efficient and comfortable, and eventually, they become the road most traveled.
Soon, as we age, taking the road less traveled is pushed further and further from our mind. Our dreams become distant memories or worse, they are stored into our sub-conscious as failures.
Office jobs pay well with excellent benefits. The truth is: once you get a taste of corporate crack, you are fucked for life, and, you’re not. Not as long as you follow company protocol in your professional life and remain sufficiently self indulgent in your personal life. Some call that being materialistic – or just another asshole BMW driver – or you simply like crack and now you can afford it.
Pattern of No Return
The American dream of upward mobility promises a better way of life. For many of us this can be accomplished through the employee/employer relationship, either in a government or a corporate job. Employees receive pay increases, healthcare, life insurance, and a retirement plan. Additional incentives, sometimes referred to as “perks of the job” come with the type of business or industry you are in.
If you work for a major university, your children may get a free ride if they meet the standard for admission. Airline industry employees receive travel deals and free flights. Upper management positions come with a company car, bonus pay, and stock options.
If the aim is to climb the management ladder, the stakes are high and highly competitive. One’s star may rise in the organization all the way to the top only to crash and burn in spectacular fashion. Relocated, lateraled, put into a window seat, or given a golden parachute are some of the business jargon terms used when a top executive falls from grace.
Position is power. Without it, professional lives crumble sometimes destroying personal lives. If you’ve bought into a safe harbor life style, you keep your lower grade job sucking the service sector or corporate tit until the day you retire or die which ever comes first.
Personal and professional lives merge – they always do. Many of us get married, move into better neighborhoods, and start families. In return, employers can expect their employees to stay put. And so it goes. Working for The Man solves the I-Just-Got-Out-of-College-and-I-Can’t-Find-a-Decent-Job-and-I’m-Tired-of-Eating-Beans Blues.
Government employees receive guaranteed employment and full retirement benefits after 20 years. It just makes good business sense to keep employees fat and happy. For one thing, it breeds loyalty and makes them less likely to jump ship.
What does this all mean? It’s the subtle and not-so-subtle differences between the cages we all live in.
A Brave New World
Baby boomers are familiar with the popular 1960s slogan: “Never trust anyone over 30.” Youth is a transitional state of mind characterized by a lack of life experience mixed with idealism and fuel to burn. If you are over 30, you have no doubt experienced the personal transformation in your own life.
Hippies became yuppies.
Likewise, hipsters will become appsters. An appster is a hipster who is less tactile and hands on. Fewer beards and laced boots. In the future they will become more 3D digital and VR reliant. He or she sells off their extensive vinyl record collection and vintage Polaroid camera to purchase the latest virtual reality fuck & suck technology. The dawn of perfecting the human “techno-orgasmic experience” without the complications that come with human contact and messy emotions. No clean up required.
Young people energetically resist bullshit, but often find themselves immersed in it. Every revolution in human history is awash in their blood. However, after the Animal House college years are behind them, their beer vomit dorm rooms become office cubicles with that sanitary napkin feel.
“Settling down” leads to accepting, which requires heavy doses of rationalizing. The ability to rationalize one’s circumstances and choices, and thereby mitigate the consequences, is essential for human survival. We all need to eat. That requires a job. Then we become a patron of the arts and support others dreams. See how rationalizing works?
Maybe so, but a lifestyle built on a lifetime of settling often comes at a price. For me, the price was my soul.
How are things in your cage?
Cage of freedom, that’s our prison
We are the jailer and captive combined
All the trappings of our own design
Cage of freedom, growing smaller
‘Til every wall now touches the skin
There’s no exit – there’s no entrance
Remember how we swallowed the key?
– Jon Anderson, Cage of Freedom (Metropolis)