My Pro-Bono Day Job


It’s a tough economy.  I hear that all the time.  What’s worse is that I understand economics and read the latest economic reports.   The only thing direr than the latest economic reports is Fox News and I’ve lost patience with even trying to understand the other side of the argument anymore.  Still, there are people out there with a bleaker view of things than me.  These people are what my mother would call “Debbie Downers” and they make the world a cauldron for negativity that makes conservatives seem like hopey-changey people in comparison.  That said, I’ve had my fill of politics lately too.  I just can’t take the constant barrage from both sides.  I never thought I’d see the day when even I got sick of watching non-stop political coverage, but low and behold that day is upon us.  The reason I can’t even watch the news anymore is the same as the reason that I can’t really listen to my professors anymore; they don’t understand that we, the listeners are not the problem, it’s the people that tuned out long ago that should be your focus.

I have no patience for procrastinators.  I don’t even want to hear it.  I have my stuff done on time, always.  I don’t enjoy doing it, but there are lots of things I don’t enjoy doing, I still do them anyway.  If you live in a world where you deal with every problem you face tomorrow then you’re going to have a lot of problems to deal with on the day you decide to deal with your problems.  In terms of stress, I’d be surprised if you didn’t explode.  A little bit of stress dragged out over a period of time is manageable.  But were you to dump all that stress on me in one day I’d probably lose it.  This is why the whole idea behind procrastinating seems wrong to me.  You’re going to wait until your problems reach a critical mass and then you’re going to try and address them?  Wow.  What if we all did that on the same day, at the same time?  I can pretty much guarantee that everyone would try to find a way to put it off another day and when you do that you’re inviting that critical mass to expand even further.  I can’t tell you how difficult it is to live a life of perpetual anxiety.  I do this to myself and I have no reason to do so.

I worry about everything.  From the time I get up in the morning until the time I go to bed, I’m worried about something.  The scariest times are when I don’t even know what I’m worried about.  Then I start thinking that I must have forgotten about something and dire consequences will ensue.  I can’t think of a time in my life where this has actually happened, but there’s a first time for everything!  When I wake up in the morning I worry about how long I’m going to wait before getting out of bed.  If I wait too long I’ll throw my whole day off, but if I get up too early I’ll be sleepy for the rest of the day.  The only solution in my mind is to procrastinate and as I discussed earlier this only irritates me further.  It is amazing how angry you can make yourself when you adopt the tactics of the people that most piss you off.  One of the things I spend more time worrying about than anything else is boredom.  I do not want to ever be bored.  My mind gets destructive when it has nothing to do.  On the one hand it’s good that I recognize this, on the other it’s terrifying to think of actually having nothing to do even if a scenario in which such a thing would take place is impossible to think of.  It’s not the situation that’s the problem, it’s the fact that the situation exists in the first place that starts me worried and keeps me worried for most of the day.

My life has a surprising amount of structure for someone who could basically go out, do whatever, and face few real world consequences for their actions.  I’m not saying that there aren’t people I can disappoint; those people will always exist in everyone’s life.  What I’m saying is that the real world consequences for me should I decide to say; fly to Zagreb and live like a Croatian for a year or two or ten would be few and far between.  My family would notice, but beyond that, few people would be affected by this decision.  You would think that this would give me a surprising amount of flexibility in my life.  You’d be wrong.  Flexibility is not the same as freedom.  Flexibility means that you could do something that, on its face, seems unreasonable and face little in the way of backlash for doing this.  Freedom means, as the saying goes; never having to say you’re sorry.  The distance between flexibility and freedom in this instance really couldn’t be further apart.  I have the flexibility to make my own decisions, but every decision I make will elicit a reaction from others that is not only unnecessary and cumbersome, but unwarranted and needlessly judgmental.

Doing unorthodox things is something that pisses a lot of people off, which consequently is one of the reasons that I enjoy doing unorthodox things to begin with.  I actually have this Freudian mechanism that seems to just want to defy the expectations of others.  I call this my pro-bono day job.  Being unorthodox is what writers get paid for.  Only I’m an essayist, so I rarely get paid for my thoughts or ideas.  While this in all likelihood seems depressing for some, it’s not as depressing as you might think.  If I got paid for writing there would be some expectation when it came to what I produced.  By writing essays that are, as some have said, pointless, but I choose to look at as being unhinged to expectations, I give myself greater artistic freedom than someone who has to sell their ideas to an editor or worse: an audience.

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