Increasingly there is a desire to travel open roads lined with trees or farm fields that wind their way around gentle curves, past soft rolling hills and perhaps travel on a day with a gentle rain or snow just for atmosphere.
A road that passes old houses and barns, that goes through one stoplight main streets, that encounters signs of history, places with a natural character that has grown over time and a road where the chance of passing another vehicle for miles is rare.
Evermore there is a longing to find walking trails that head to new adventures; trails that ramble alongside gentle streams and through woods to ‘new’ locations filled with old footbridges, abandoned train tracks, forgotten sections of parks, forgotten depots.
I desire to find towns built as part of the landscape, towns which have a true history that is honored and cherished, where people respect their past, for better or worse, and who understand that while history is an important tool to learn from, to gain insight from and to hopefully use as a means avoid the same mistakes, especially the horrific moments of history, a majority of history is something over which the social mores of today cannot and by which the morals people live by in the present should never stand over in final judgement.
I long to find towns where by just spending time within them, you can feel the love and life that has filled them, and sense they are waiting to tell the tales of all they have been witness to over many decades, if not centuries.
There is a yen to find people who still gather and spend time together in natural and friendly ways and who come to know a friend’s or stranger’s history and habits in a manner that isn’t prying.
There is an urge to rediscover people who are caring enough to do all possible to create a warm and comfortable atmosphere through greetings, inclusion in local customs, local foods, for all those they encounter, be it friend or stranger, who are in need and perhaps even more for those who don’t even know they are in need.
Increasingly, there is a desire to find a place far from the known, the common and established.
Somewhere far away from the ‘brave new world’ in which we all suddenly find ourselves living.
A ‘brave new world’ where people are addicted to mobile devices, foolishly surrendering their freedoms and privacy, for the convenience of a garage door that can be remotely closed from the other side of the planet, a fridge that texts them they are out of milk, or a GPS that can monitor their every move, allowing them to remain in ignorance of how to read a map, thus denying them the tremendous joy and discovery even minor deviations from a fixed path can bring.
A ‘brave new world’ that fails to understand how it is not safety, or like-minded thinking, or people bullying their view onto others, but freedom of action, freedom of thought, discourse with those you disagree with, which are the things that drive a people, a society forward, leading people to discover far more than they ever knew they were seeking and through such discoveries, lead to those unforgettable moments and days which make life worth living.
I long to find a place that allows moments which might only exist in fiction, in scenes from movies or scenes from various anime. Scenes of a snowy night, an overlook in a park that looks back toward the city.
A place to see the lights of the city below in brightly light buildings, the distant neon signs, traffic travelling the highways and maybe the occasional train racing through part of the city.
A view that inspires moments of 物の哀れ, and wistfully thoughts of a future that wasn’t and a past that has yet to be, while providing renewed faith and belief in the possibilities of both still someday existing.
Or maybe a place that allows a chance to walk quiet city streets as the snow gently falls and there is a sense of great serenity, a momentary tranquility where for just a few moments it is possible to believe the world can be at peace and that people actually care for one another.
There is an increasing need to find a place away from where people are so easily offended that society would never allow movies like Airplane to be made now and a society that shudders at signs like “We keep our beef prices so low…. because we have an uncle who is a cattle rustler.”, crying out how improper it is to joke about such things.
A world far away from where everything has turned so vanilla and tilted toward plebian that even the “new” is often trite and cliché, if not merely a reboot, a retread of the “safe” and “known”, simply packaged as “new and edgy”.
To find a place people understand sarcasm, cynicism, puns and the various subtleties of speech. A place where people know what is meant when, in reply to Verizon’s new ad campaign seen in stadiums (“Verizon: Are You With Us?”), someone replies, “Well, let us say, for the moment, I am not against you.”
A place where people don’t cry out that anything that is not complimentary must by default be insulting and offensive.
There is a fervent desire to discover a people who understand sometimes doing the right thing is the wrong thing, that good intentions aren’t always welcomed or wanted, that darkness and light cannot exist without the other, that there are times when there is far more beauty found in imperfection then there is sanity, rationality and logic found in “perfection” and that there are times in life when the only way to win, is to lose.
To find a place where people are not so hidebound by rules that they fail to understand that the rules will always reflect the greatest self-interest of the ruling class, which only occasionally benefits the masses, which is why at times the rules must be viewed as mere guidelines.
There is a strong desire to find a place where people are intuitive and self-aware enough that they don’t need things explained in such minute detail that asking them if they want soup for lunch must involve explaining what a spoon is, which hand is best to hold the spoon and at what angle and degree the spoon should enter the soup bowl and then be brought to the mouth.
Once, oh around a decade to a decade and a half ago, I knew people who were intuitive and self-aware enough to know you don’t touch a hot stove with a boiling pot on top, but now… well, I know people who demand to know how it is possible to categorically state it is raining, simply by looking out a window and then complain there is no sign telling them to take an umbrella posted at the exits before seeing such a sign posted and complaining there are too many signs.
Back then I also knew roadways where one could travel for miles without encountering another vehicle, passing through echoes of a town’s history.
I knew of walking trails to hidden oases away from crowds, where one could find the solitude to reflect, sitting near ivy covered chimneys rising from overgrown abandoned houses that were once part of an old farming community but now part of a botanical gardens.
But recently as four years ago, a once peaceful roadway lined with trees, rolling farm fields, a single stop sign and hints of what the area must have been fifty years ago, had within two months gained a traffic light, saw the woods leveled and farm fields ploughed under for several developments offering the chance to ‘live in the luxury homes of tomorrow…. today!’. In my opinion those developers take a very liberal definition of ‘luxury’, with homes slapped together in about six weeks, on lots with homes sitting closer together than any of the words on this page.
Perhaps, for a whole variety of reasons, while that moment of an area’s transformation was not the straw that broke the camel’s back, it was the straw that first lead the camel to feel the increasing weight.
I truly mark that time period as the moment I became aware of the growing ennui that fills me each time I must adapt and each time I find that these adaptions feel, at best, like a sideways step where nothing is gained, while there is a vague feeling of something lost and at worst feels like a step backwards where a lot is lost and so little can even be claimed as holding steady it is laughable.
Perhaps this is also when I realized that the new adventure I seek, might not be as simple as a new road to travel, or a new park to explore, but require, through my own choice, a change of location and/or employment.
It is an odd feeling because though in a different era and place, I lived a long time in the town I was born, saw many changes, though admittedly most toward the end of my time there and few prior negative in nature and never truly felt the need to move rather than travel and explore in order to have new adventures.
It is odder to think that even as I feel the push today to move forward, even within a town whose glory is far more historic and aggrandized than true, even with a commute that is a getting more dangerous and far too close to double what it should be and even with an employment situation that is leaving me spiritually and emotionally drained within a work location that in the past year has garnered enough faults to fill four Manhattan phonebooks, there is an odd sort of comfort.
I can’t truly explain it, since it has become a place where everything from the job, to benefits to the surrounding area is so ethereal, that it feels as if a slight shift in the clouds, a soft breeze, the sneeze of an ant, or a leaf landing half on the grass and half on the sidewalk, could shatter everything.
Obviously, that is not the most restful or comfortable feeling.
Maybe because of the dueling feeling of being comfortable and yet uncomfortable, I keep remembering something Georg Lichtenberg once wrote, “I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better.”
I have been looking into changes, both long and short distances and thought a short distance would admittedly help, it might only be a temporary moderate help as a lot of the problems of the area would remain.
Truthfully, the thought of finding a job in another city, another state and perhaps another time zone, has me excited and terrified. I’ve moved before, about four times so far in my life not counting college but, and I hate to say it, but there are also moments when I think of the short turnaround I might have, needing to find a new vet for the feline family, finding new Tai Chi and fun Japanese classes, finding a part of the city that isn’t at its apex but will last 20 to 30 years in which to live and think, I’m getting to old for this…
Yet I also cannot deny that change of my choosing would be refreshing and is something that is probably sorely needed at this time.
Refreshing to find a place that is not mired in lies and paranoia. A place that doesn’t use the words “compliance” and “best practices”, to justify ending an over three-decade tradition of giving beautiful clocks and globes in recognition of longevity, and replace it with a grocery store, gas station, credit card company points reward system where one needs around 50,000 points (a slam dunk if you are with the company for 45 years) to even sniff an item that would be useful and practical, that is other than toothbrush holders and non-stick bread pans which can be gotten for 15,000 points.
Refreshing to find a place that embraces ideas such as light rail, rather than show such vitriol toward the idea that I am starting to wonder who is funding campaigns against the light rail (it isn’t the local transit authority who has already publicly endorsed the idea) and what light rail ever did to those against it to merit such dislike.
It would be so refreshing to find a place far from where people use a logic that would make Vulcan’s cry to make major corporate decisions, namely, “If it is something that hasn’t been personally seen before, even if it is something being seen now that is working successfully and has been proven to have worked successfully for decades, it obviously cannot exist in the manner in which it is now being observed, because it has never previously personally been seen to exist that way”.
Oh, how I would love to engage those people in discourse on matters of spiritualism, mysticism and especially religion.
It would be refreshing to find a place where people are worldly beyond their limited scope of work and necessary knowledge.
A place where they might know the works, beyond just some titles, of Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, George Orwell, H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, Akira Kurosawa and be able to name at least one movie by Studio Ghibli or something other than The Birds and Pyscho by Hitchcock and be able to get MST3K and Doctor Who references.
A place where they are honest that the reasons for a “Time Sheet Completion Competition”, is not for a chance to win one of many fabulous prizes, but because of the tiniest flaw in the new timekeeping system, namely that it will crash if even one staff member’s timesheet is ten minutes late each week… seriously, this is stuff one just can’t make up and what is it with all these contests with chances to win one of many fabulous prizes from HR… is someone in HR a frustrated wannabe game show host?
A place away from where HR is taking benefits from front line employees and giving them to (over their quietest and most inarticulate protests no doubt) the ‘humble’ and ‘lacking any hubris’ top brass, who merely believe a job well-done is reward enough… well ‘reward enough’ along with their midrange six figure salaries that is… I am suddenly thinking of both a satirical comment and a joke, but not sure either are printable before the children are tucked into their beds.
I seek a place where people are like my former mentor at the office; acerbic, humorous, willing to work with others, quick to teach the angles and introduce the true powerbrokers and who truly care about those they work with knowing when the rules are to be treated as if they actually are ironclad and when they are to be considered little more than guidelines in order to successfully complete assignments.
A place where people aren’t like so many of the new hires in the office, literalist, sycophant, myopic, rule bound, kowtowers, who amaze me at their daring to eat a slice of pizza without a detailed instruction manual, spoken and written approval of their direct supervisor or spoken, written and notarized approval from no less than two other members of management in their supervisor’s absence.
It would be refreshing to be in a place where co-workers don’t try so hard to play the hero that I often wonder why they don’t go for broke, don a cape and cowl to prowl the night, striking fear into the vile criminal scum that plague our fair town… a town which, if you believe office security’s “weekly safety bulletins”, has enough crime in just the two block radius of our office to make Gotham City look like bucolic farm community whose biggest threat to public safety is someone swiping eggs from a roadside farm stand for the sole purpose of throwing them back at the vendor.
I long for a place people actually respect time off, understanding time is the most precious and most limited resource a person has and understanding this, doesn’t book time off they have no intention of taking, thus preventing others from taking it.
A place away from where people don’t respect or value time-off they are handed on a silver platter by either staying online in case any e-mails or questions come in only they can answer or attempt to use that time to themselves look good.
An attempt often made by working on projects that frankly have so little importance to the continued welfare of company, that there is greater potential for positive or negative cosmic impact to the universe, and perhaps the multiverse, riding on my decision of okonomiyaki or pasta for dinner, than from their finishing or even just working on, a project during a day the office is closed due to flooding, high winds, heavy snows, power outages, local, state or federal holidays or just for the heck of it.
It would be so refreshing to be a place where co-workers don’t waste their days playing up to management before crying they are so busy they must stay past 7pm, doing the work they didn’t do during the day and (as they have been seen by others) staying to scrub break room counters until they shine before the cleaning staff arrives… there’s a joke in there somewhere about ensuring a house is spotless so the maid doesn’t form a bad impression of the household…
I desire to find a place where it is possible to have help in seeking new employment, rather than encountering people and places who send me to interviews for jobs that don’t exist, tell me since I am employed they cannot help, refuse to help for fear of a conflict of interest due to business done once, 26 years ago, with my current company, or tell of a great opportunity and promise to get back to me regardless of there being an interview arranged, only to never get back.
I long to discover a place where they actually believe in the words of the late Anthony Bourdain, “Skills can be taught. Character you either have or you don’t have.”
Such a place would be far away from where they focus on how “great a match” or what “percentage match” a person is before judging and comparing them to others based on those numbers… which admittedly is far easier since it is the computer or some metrics system doing the judgement which offers a cushion to anyone hiring that makes the wrong choice. I mean they were merely following the computer’s decision and computers are flawless so if the choice was bad, obviously it was a one in a million flaw in the computer program and not the judgement of the one hiring.
A place systems for job searches are either free or geared to the job seeker not the employer, as they are in so many ads on radio and television for Monster.com, LinkedIn, Indeed, ZipRecuriter and others, who are blatant about selling a metrics based project to employers looking to hire.
Employers whose self-admitted inability to accurately and timely shift through resumes to find the right candidates to even interview let alone work for them, likely speaks far more of their own skills and abilities in reviewing and judging potential employees than it does anything else.
Yet, to hear the employers tell their tale on radio, and news shows, the task of reviewing resumes must be a Herculean one far more onerous than Sisyphus’s curse, doomed for eternity to roll a boulder uphill, and requires so much time and effort that if The Odyssey was written today, surely Homer would make reviewing resumes and judging skills and employment histories to find the right candidate, a trail Odysseus must overcome, replacing one of those silly trails, like defeating the Cyclops, escaping Circe or overcoming the Sirens’ call.
I desire to find a place where people don’t cry foul when they unknowingly, or knowingly, play the straight man and feed beautiful setup lines.
For example, take one nameless company’s ad for their job services which ends, “I thought we were looking for an Operations Manager, but we were really looking for an Oscar.”
That is a beautiful setup line begging for a follow-up of, “Yeah, well with that script and acting performance, don’t hold your breath… however, if you’re looking for a Razzie…”
These days, that simple return of an all too perfect straight man feeder line would be a written warning from HR, seriously, no one here has a sense of humor anymore.
I long to find a place where the leadership at least pretends to listen to employees and keeps their promises to open their doors to ideas, implementing those they can, even if it is something silly like Taco Tuesdays or a Free Froyo Fridays.
I long for a place where the employees remove their rose-colored glasses, if only just long enough to engage in the increasingly rare concept of trust but verify when it comes to everything and anything the leadership says, especially about what they say is good for the employee.
I desire to find a place where I can get sleep and feel rested each night. There is a current ad on radio for a sheet and blanket company which mentions how few people ever get the sleep they want, in response to which, with no punchline intended, I find myself saying, “I’d settle for the sleep I need.”
A place I can escape worry and have at least some fun being at work, as I once did, and can be excited about going in each day, which once was the case.
A place where each new day doesn’t hold the question of if I’ve reached the point that there are now more “I remember when’s” then can be counted on the fingers and toes, which if anyone ever does reach that point is often a sign it is time to move on and start fresh.
Is there such a place? Are there such places?
Do places still exist where one can be excited about what is to come next, rather than only seeing so many endings without new beginnings that they become weary and spent?
Is there a road, literal or figurative, to start such a journey to the place(s) a person needs, and hopefully wants, to be?
Or is all I seek merely antiquated symbols and ideals of a bygone era, an era that understood and acknowledged how critical relaxation is to overall mental, spiritual and physical health and wellbeing?
Has the world changed so much that all I seek is like the Maltese Falcon, and merely “the stuff that dreams are made of”?
I ask my feline family and they stretch, yawn, nuzzle me, climb on the back of my chair and drape their tail over my shoulder as they go back to sleep. It is almost as if they are saying, “You’re talking to cats. We’re always perfect and can’t understand why humans worry so much about things they can’t control and then struggle so hard to obtain barely passable mediocrity, but don’t worry, you know where to scratch us behind the ears, which blankets we use each night and know what food prefer and where to place our bowls for breakfast and dinner, so we love you regardless of all your faults.”
Perhaps they truly are wiser and are saying don’t sweat it and for the moment at least, I should continue to seek what I want, continue to strive for answers to my questions, without worrying if the answers truly exist.
Well, I do know I need to find another way to seek employment elsewhere but for now plan on taking a few moments to nap with a feline family member in my lap and a good book that is asking to be read this night.