I feel a change happening soon. I feel I am at the end of my rope. As the popular refrain goes: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. By that definition, I confess I may have been insane for a very long time. Only now am I beginning to awaken and recognize the symptoms of my illness. A false hope brewed by the popular ingredients of hardnosed determination coupled with a stifling ignorance of how you advance in this world has left me suffering from a crippling sense of inertia. I am not working towards something, and the actions I have taken (my efforts), cannot strictly be defined as work. For the simple fact that I haven’t made progress towards my goal; that hazy, disfigured four-letter word that beckons me forward into the fog, but keeps me blind. I remain lost.
Eight months ago I was starting a new occupation in downtown Manhattan, in the hubbub of the financial district. I was not (and am still not) making a respectable living wage for this city’s standards, but I was surviving. The workload seemed manageable and I was convinced that I was working for an admirable cause: the wellbeing of New Yorkers. Gradually, I came to realize that my role is limited and severely hindered to the point where I am merely a mouthpiece for the organization I have agreed to represent. Such is the fate of anyone tasked with working in customer service. To a certain extent, I knew this coming into the business. I can’t make excuses for my inevitable disappointment. It is still frustrating, though.
A successful writing career—what is that, exactly? A successful writer…can anyone point one out for me? I know, there are countless. Things get complicated when you consider the myriad definitions you can have of “success”. I guess I’m trying to figure that out. For a while I molded my image of success after the titans who emerged from Scribner’s and Sons Publishers: Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Wolfe, et al. But those were different times where you had more face-to-face interactions and there weren’t as many people around, so you didn’t have a five year waiting list to discover your place in a contest that paid money or at least brought your work into the hands of someone who could do something for you. Well, that was the Great White American Dream, packaged and sold to millions of starry-eyed kids around the world, no matter what color they were. I didn’t realize it until much later, but I bought into that dream at ten times its sale value, framed it in gold and hung it high up on my bedroom wall, several feet above a magazine cutout of Cindy Crawford in ripped jean shorts and that flirty look she reserved just for me. Great things lay ahead!
I don’t know what the hell this whole post is about, I’m sorry to disappoint you. I guess this is about a new beginning, as the title suggests. I am doing something new, to cure my insanity. Or perhaps I can just curb it. Either way, this is therapeutic. I just thought of something: This will be my new definition of success. This right now—I’m writing! You, you sitting there—you’re a witness. Here I am, wondering how to cope with the drudgery of odd, uninspiring and demeaning jobs and still find a way to keep this little light shining… and suddenly I see you there! I can just make out your face. Maybe you look like me, or maybe I’m staring at a mirror. In any case, I think I feel a change from when I began this post. I’m at 648 words now, if you count “648” as a word. Oh, now it’s 660. How did that happen? Pure determination! The inertia is gone! I feel I’ve made progress. I’m a writer after all, and here we are at the end of a lengthy post. Are you still with me? I think I remember my goal now. Can you keep a secret? My goal is this: To write about the world I live in, have lived in and will continue to struggle in, for as long as my heart keeps beating. I’ve been doing that already, but somewhere along the line I lost my way. I must get back on track. And unfortunately, my old pal O.J. (Odd Job) might be sticking around longer than I’d like. Ah well, maybe I’ll learn to like him. Writing, after all, is a lonely occupation…
What’s that I hear? Is that a phone ringing? Excuse me, please. Looks like I’ve still got some work to do.