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Where I’ve been since June…

Anyone who has turned up to my blog lately expecting it to do what some other blogs do (that being: update you on my regular life-affirming movements and activities in an effort to make myself seem more important) may admittedly have been left feeling disappointed.

Some would try putting on their psychological hats and consider this to mean I’m an avoider of real life; a person who finds comfort inside his film-themed head where he can feel safe and protected from the reality of how things actually work (a viewpoint shared by those who enjoy the comfort of a prosperous throne, steeped in their own ignorance). Or another may feel a slight sense of disjointed anger, even approaching bitterness, at the fact that I don’t know ‘how to blog effectively’, and go on to content themselves by telling their ego they can do better.

In a way this is very true, and they would be very right. I do not ‘blog’ effectively as it pertains to getting as many readers as I can. I use words naturally rather than in a way that intentionally manipulates SEO. By the logic of many, I clearly have no idea what I’m doing. I’m naive, and you’re probably better than me. It’s a crying shame. So let me use this opportunity to give you my version of what a ‘normal’ blog entry looks like, the kind that I have not done since…

Back in June, as some will know and others will have heard second-hand, I received an attractive job offer for a role situated in a city other than Portsmouth (where I had lived sporadically between 2008 and that point three months ago), which by comparison to the city I now find myself in, is really not that great of a city at all. I know there are some whose pride may be pricked by such an audacious claim, and allow me to assure you that I mean no offence. I just mean Portsmouth, in comparison to other cities on the south coast especially, feels flat (there is no natural elevation in sight), outdated (the ‘Historic Dockyard’ tells you all you need to know about its importance to any industry other than academia and/or tourism these days) and severely lacking in surrounding countryside (perhaps excused by the fact that it’s surrounded mostly by water instead).

Were it not for some eccentric locals and a university that serves to boost the city’s population by 10% between September and May, there would unfortunately be little reason to love the place. Yet it seems many people still do, and I have no wish to fight them over it – though I am forced to admit that it’s always telling when they have to pause to think of any reasons why that aren’t sentimentally related to friends, family or an otherwise comfortable life.

So off I went then to Plymouth, similar to Portsmouth in some ways but different in many others. Here we have hills. Here I found surroundings that provide nice scenery, with green featuring more prominently than it did in Pompey’s limited colour palette. But most significantly, here I have found a decent, albeit not ideal, job. Though perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that it found me (more on that another time).

My point, however, is not to focus on this job. Not that I could even if I would, because there are certain expected rules I have to take care over in that regard. What I wish to focus more on is the point that occasionally comes before getting a job – the elephant in many rooms, the part people become embarrassed about bringing up in conversations with others when they themselves are in the midst of it, and the thing that many others in better situations do not always appreciate. I’m talking about unemployment.

Unemployment is an issue around which I’m willing to dance a little. I will say, in what I now consider to be an informed opinion, that it is not usually something worth compromising your own ethics in order to beat (and the exceptions should be very exceptional). It is not the world’s worst evil, much as the Conservative government and some middle class tax payers like to think otherwise, due mainly to their financial sacrifices for the very system they helped create. You are not doing someone an amazing favour, nor are you providing the cure for some underlying ailment simply by ‘providing them with a job’. Let’s try to drop these misconceptions before continuing on. Or, I suppose, you could always just stop reading and be happy in that blissful way which only seems to come when you shut out certain information.

Of course saying this from my position may be all good, but what about those who are still currently unemployed with little immediate prospects in sight? In all likelihood you aren’t feeling too good about it. I went through periods during my stint in unemployment, which lasted around eight full months in total, when I struggled with the status too. Contrary to a culture of laziness that some people try to live by, our species actually thrives on work, especially that which we enjoy in some way.

It is that fact – our attraction to a certain kind of hard work – that I use as my core point on this issue. When I say unemployment is not the worst thing in the world, I am not saying you should just sit back, put your feet up and enjoy doing nothing with the extra time on your hands. You don’t need the ‘job’ label to give your actions importance. I will be writing a follow-up post to this one – my own personal ‘unemployment survival guide’ – specifically for those who may be struggling to find relevance during a season when everyone else around them seems more ‘normal’ than they are. Though if you are only striving to be as normal as everyone else, so you can one day become part of this exclusive club of people who fit in by talking about interesting things that happened during their day, then I daresay that may be your first mistake.

Equally, it frustrates me when I see people on the other side of this fence, pre-judging those who do not have a job, giving them unkind and usually unwarranted labels.

It annoys me when I witness this negative stereotype, generated by a society that has a chip on its shoulder due to being forced (thankfully so, because if it was left to free choice I dread to think what would become of us all) to provide for those less fortunate than themselves. I may not have liked being unemployed. But I would happily take it any day over being someone who thinks charity towards others should depend on whether or not I see them as worthy of it.

Graeme relentlessly continued this pointless inward rant many times as his fruitless journey to find the answers to all of life’s problems went on. His mission had already taken him far and wide and would eventually culminate in a chase through space and time. Q’s trail was always faint, but never was there a place that didn’t bear his unmistakable signature, and it was this that kept Graeme going through the bitterness and betrayal of his story so far. Loki had abandoned him. Society had shunned him for fear that he might succeed in opening their eyes to what they didn’t want to see.

He crucially lacked the integrity of relevant qualifications. These simple labels, given by society as a sign that one had the proven ability to work hard and know a chosen field with conviction, are what would prove beneficial for changing the world. Graeme would play by their own rules in order to show them their folly. Bring them down from the inside; expose their system for its limitations and wipe its records so that all could once again have a fair playing field when it came to voices being heard. Q, this curious being, whose philosophy could not have been much different from Graeme’s own, held the key to everything. Q would be the qualification Graeme needed. The key to unveiling Disturbia for all to see and bringing everyone back to a more simple existence, free from the concept of the faked ‘true’ knowledge that society had fed to its falsely prosperous citizens.

For it was this knowledge that had become the real enemy through the ages. It was an addiction to wanting more knowledge that led people to begin creating their own truths. It would in turn lead people to stick to beliefs and convictions that may not have been ultimately true but were made to seem so by the building of theories over time to support and give them credibility. In this way many truths could be fashioned from layers of knowledge that began with a simple but intriguing lie, which fed on the attractive mixture of imagination and recorded stories that humanity has always found so magnetically charming (those stories having been recorded at a different time from now is itself, in some cases, said to have made them irrevocably true, because it certainly felt like they reflected elements of the truth strived for).

First, Q had to be found. Then, to be convinced of the merit of their partnership for bringing change to a world that Q himself, by virtue of his noted absence, clearly had no wish to play a part in any longer. Still, there must have been something about it that Q saw as worth visiting occasionally, though he would do so quietly, seeking some positive that made Disturbia worthy of remaining in existence for this long. Or perhaps there was no hope. Maybe that really was the truth; society’s values could no longer be reversed, and there was little anyone could do now to stop it, short of destroying all the good along with the bad.

So they would compromise and save what little liberty they were told they had, because even the simple principles on which they once thrived had been clouded. Upon realising this Graeme knew there was no alternative. If this place was to fall, then everything linked to it must fall also. No risk could be taken by keeping a ‘little bit of this’ or a ‘little bit of that’. He was determined to see it fall most definitively.

Aware that this mystifying ‘Q’ person was the key, Graeme decided to push on farther. He was nearing what would be his final destination on this journey; of that he could be sure. But with begrudging realisation, he acknowledged that it wouldn’t be happening today, and trudged on through a swamp towards the new age of enlightenment.

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