Monday, May 26, 2014

Struggle as Blessing

I was reclining in bed last night with MBWM, reading from the latest Ensign (That is ˈen-ˌsīn, the standard raised above a group, not \ˈen(t)-sən, the naval rank). This magazine frequently lifts my spirits. And I needed my spirits lifted. Three accounts in the red, automatic payments start coming out next week to push me further into the red. Cell phone and storage unit due in less than a week. Car payment due in two and a half weeks unless the bank will let me skip a payment. If they won't, then I'm going to have to sell the car. I don't want to. It was to be Asian Red Fox's in a year or so. And none of those financial woes are the biggie; rent. I'm not going to think about that one. The others induce melancholia well enough.

I have no prospects except to take up delivering papers again. We tried it for a couple weeks. It didn't go well and only grossed $43 for most of a day's work. It's not much, especially after all of the gas needed to retrieve and then deliver the papers, but it's something. And in the category of jobs known as "at least it's something," though I would never present that attitude before, during, or after holding the position, I've been turned down by Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and Pizza Hut. I say turned down, but really it's abject silence. Silence that has shown that I can't get a job at a call center, a convenience store, or as a delivery driver. I can't get back into ITT because their assessment says I won't be a good fit, even though I worked there for three years. I've tailored resumes in abundance to show how past responsibilities fit potential opportunities at a new company. I've researched shifting my career focus to put in the best phrases in my cover letters. Still, nothing. I cannot blame my weight because I've been offered a job for the only interview I've had in the last couple months. That was for a telemarketer position based on lies of omission and payment by commission. I'm still not sure which would have been more painful. I doubt I can blame my age, but it is one explanation for rejection at entry level positions. And since I only list the education they request, I can't blame that either. And really, there is a difference between explanation (why I don't have a particular job) and blame (which of my failing characteristics are responsible).

All of this heavy weariness caused by the situations I am experiencing and my reactions to them is by way of explanation of the articles I was reading in the aforementioned Ensign. I was feeling much better as I read. One led to contemplation of my own family history and how my father has done more along that vein than I have of late. Another article was on being compassionate and firm in living and displaying the standards I believe. But one article caused deeper contemplation than the others. The focus of the article was how the struggles of marriage are a blessing. That is something I believed even before I was married. Prior to being married, I had several married couples as friends. I would sometimes be called upon for advice. Strange to me for two reasons. First, I wasn't married. But second, my viewpoint frequently gave the couple something to ponder. Many times, after hearing what each had to say, I would say, "I wish I had that problem." They would look at my as though I had grown a second head (Thank you, Zaphod). I would then explain, "If I had that problem, then it would mean I was married." While this article was a little different in direction than my melancholic contemplations, it could well be said that struggles of any nature are a blessing. In the midst of the fight, it is frequently not easy for me to see the blessing. But there have been some. My temper has calmed down. I am still actively engaged in the fight against my personal demons within and demons without. And I still consider myself incredibly blessed by the family I have.

I think the realization came to me a little while ago that I can still make progress. While some of the imagery may not make sense to the non-LDS reader, I hope the feelings they convey will be understandable. I was in the temple berating my idiocy for being in the position I was. At the time, I was changing out of my temple clothes and into my church clothes at the temple in preparations for the journeys and activities still ahead of me. The position I was in included things like: Needing gas money from my elderly, fixed-income mother to be able to attend the temple, the inability to obtain even a "joe job," and other feelings of being beaten by life. And then it was pointed out (divinely, if you are so inclined as I am, or emotionally, if you are inclined in that direction), that here I was, living a life worthy to enter the temple, I had easy transportation to accomplish this glad duty of temple attendance, I would be heading to my assigned church house to practice the organ as a last minute substitute to bring my congregation together in worship, I had a key to the church house as a measure of trust in my willingness to serve, I had been advanced in the priesthood as a measure of the need to put my skills to work for the Kingdom, and I was sure to be successful in my efforts of family, priesthood, church, temple, civic, and financial responsibilities. It was only a matter of time and effort. I have plenty of the former. And a willingness for the latter.

All this contemplation means I am still everything I have been, I am, and I am working to become. Melancholy at facing another day of job searching combined with the exciting, urgent requests by my Iguana, Jaguar, and Lemur to watch me play video games. The depressing knowledge that my money pit of a financial situation is getting worse combined with uplifting certainty that I will dig myself out of this hole once again. The uncertainty of how much more time and effort must pass before I build the opportunity to put my talents, education, and skills to work and the knowledge that this too shall pass.

Yours in the quiet, contemplative life,


In honor of Memorial Day 2014, I had hoped to offer an editorial cartoon. But all of the ones I located concerning Memorial Day connected the topic of today to the VA troubles. That is not a tack I would take personally, but I am impressed by the artistic and political deftness these artists presented. Instead, I offer an oft quoted poem from WWI.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

- Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918), Canadian Army

Whether the foe is the specific combatant each died fighting,
     the nation, emblem, or cause each gave their "last full measure of devotion" in an effort to defeat,
          or the most painful enemy of all, war itself,

The torch is still offered,
     The light cannot be hid,
          Each one of us is called upon to lift it

How high will you raise the torch to show how willing you are to keep the faith?

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