For any gringos too lazy to plug its title into Google Translate, this is a post about the first morning after departing WC Purgatory. Why am I writing it on the morning of Day 4? Please refer to the last post concerning the disjointedness (temporal or otherwise) of my thoughts. I make no apologies. Sorry if that bothers you.
On la primera mañana, I woke up very early. After writing the first post of the WC-Nirvana era, I went for a walk. The initial game plan was to grab a coffee (I never said I’m not among the junkies), get some fresh air and briefly revel in the fact that I was able to do these things.
But a curious thing happened.
I got the coffee and kept walking. I turned a corner and kept walking. And kept walking.
I ended up walking for the entire duration of the morning rush – two hours or so. (I didn’t keep exact track of time because… well, I won’t keep rubbing it in.)
My coffee stop led me near a main thoroughfare.
(Note that all traffic-related descriptions here are, of course, relative. “Main thoroughfare” might mean something different where you’re from. In Winnipeg, city of 700,000 or so, our main thoroughfares still have sidewalks running alongside them. We’re not exactly known for a calculatedly efficient freeway system, which is to say that we have no freeway system to speak of at all. Not that the roads are populated with mule-drawn carriages or anything… Those are prohibited during the weekday rush.)
My initial instinct was to avoid it, but that thoroughfare – in its bumper-to-bumper splendor – drew me in. I found myself following the flow of traffic, sucked toward its eventual confluence like a fly having touched down in a draining bathtub.
The significance of what was happening did not, of course, escape me. As I walked alongside their crawling vehicles, I looked at the drivers (seldom with passengers) and considered where they were all headed. And while I will concede that my first thought was to silently celebrate (okay…gloat) that I was not sporting the same look of boredom or routine that they all seemed to be, my mind soon moved on to other things.
I’ve already alluded to the fact that as I continue to use this platform to chronicle my thoughts and experiences in pursuit of a meaningful livelihood, there will undoubtedly be content that ventures into philosophical territory. This makes me pretty uncomfortable – I have to point out that I’m not usually the guy heaving profoundly abstract ideas from the rooftops. (If I’m being honest, I typically find such people to be insincere if not plainly repulsive.) So I hope you’ll believe me that, in all of this, my goals and observations are meant to be entirely pragmatic. Besides, as much as I’m posting these thoughts in a very public forum, the only person for whom I absolutely intend them to be useful is me. None of this is me suggesting that you have to agree with or otherwise buy in to anything I’m saying.
But let’s talk about that pragmatism for a second. It’s important because, for example, it’s the thing separating the dime-a-dozen Instagrammer who spends all day posting blandly ‘inspirational’ garbage of no practical value (Be Happy; Be True to Yourself) from someone who might offer you advice that you can actually try out if you’re so inclined. (Hey, Instagrammer: want to impress me? How about post some specific, usable suggestions that might actually lead me to greater satisfaction in life? Eat Your Vegetables… Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey… Regular Dental Visits Yield Excellent Gum Health.)
So when I say “my goals and observations are meant to be pragmatic”, I mean that any foray into broad philosophical discussions is only incidental to some very specific questions about how I can best enjoy my day-to-day experiences. And while it’s not lost on me that the tone of this blog has shifted radically in the past week, this has actually been the thread that ties it all together: satire was my practical attempt to cope with White-Collar Purgatory; White-Collar Nirvana represents a shift toward a much more practical attempt to increase my life satisfaction (and to previously unattainable levels, of course).
So if I do this right – which is to say, in the way that I intend to – you’ll never see me reflect on seemingly abstract or ostensibly prescriptive ‘life advice’ without my also demonstrating a causal link between what I’m saying and what I mean for it to achieve.
I considered the many drivers in their cars, crawling toward different but – really – similar places. And while I don’t want to deny anyone their snowflakesque individuality, it’s the practical (see?) similarities that I considered.
Practically speaking, most (not all) of these people wouldn’t be here if not for the promise of a paycheck.
Practically speaking, most of these people are headed to jobs that are going to make other people very wealthy (in a global-1% sort of way), be those people owners or hierarchical superiors or both.
Practically speaking, most of these people do not, themselves, enjoy the same standard of living as the people I referred to in the previous paragraph.
This is, of course, the part where you say “so what?”. Fair enough. These observations are pretty much inarguably true, to the point of being self-evident. Worse, they’re the sorts of truths that people would prefer to have go unspoken.
Here’s the “so what”: if I have the opportunity to resist those practical-but-unpleasant realities, I feel very comfortable about my decision to take it. If I fail, at least I tried. And if I succeed, my aim would be to offer just such an opportunity to people who may not otherwise have it (after all, my recent change of course is only possible because I have the financial privilege to go for it). This is my guiding mindset toward a practically more enjoyable life.
(By the way, I’m deliberately skimming over the part where I casually suggested I would aim to offer other people the opportunity to do work that they find meaningful and doesn’t make their superiors materially wealthier than them. I know that’s a pretty lofty goal, so I’m skimming because there’s no sense getting into it until I have a realistic shot at achieving it. Just know, for now, that what’s on my mind is – among other things – whether there may be a way to help improve the experience of people like the ones I observed in traffic.)
Because this is Winnipeg – with its downtown of very walkable size – my travels took me past the buildings respectively housing my three former employers. There was, of course, a certain poetry in leisurely strolling by, blissfully unconstrained by the bustle within. But it’s the practicalities of the matter that were on my mind.
Not a bad primera mañana.
Not bad at all.