Friday, March 12, 2010

Being Happy

I can't come to this blog without thinking about my late sister. When I think of writing something, I wonder what she would say to me the next time we spoke; she read the blog, but only very rarely commented online...she reserved her comments for our phone conversations.

Today, I wonder what she'd say about my habit of writing about my perpetual unhappiness with my life in general. Would she tell me to buck up or would she, more likely, express concern that I'm putting myself at risk for stress-related illness. Her solution, of course, probably would be that I should tell my clients to fuck-off, sell the business or its remnants, sell the personal things we don't really need, pack up the rest, sell the house, and follow the road to whereever my dreams take me. She thought that would eliminate my problems. Would that it were so.

My sister never really understood the complexity of my business and how it's really impossible to just up and leave it. Well, I suppose it's possible, but it would haunt me forever if I did. And I think she just wanted me to be happy and hoped that I was right when I suggested, rightly or wrongly, that hitting the road and living an entirely new life would "cure what ails me." My sister was too intelligent to really believe my unhappiness would disappear the moment I became a gypsy. She hoped it would, though, and I think she expected it would move me in the right direction. I'm not so sure whether it would, though.

She was smart enough to recognize that the constancy of my negativity about my worklife was a sign that things weren't right. She knew that I had managed to box myself into a business and a career that were remarkably unsuited the person I am, and probably always have been.

She knew I did not like...almost could not tolerate...anyone being my "boss." Relatively early on in my career, I jetted to the top of some organizations where I worked, becoming the boss. But I was not really the boss. I learned that boards of directors were bosses. And they could take a dislike to me and end my employment. I learned that being in charge of staff was not to my liking. I realized quickly that I had little patience for people who didn't have the same dedication to the job I had, nor did I have much tolerance for people who didn't learn quickly and without provocation.

Yet there I was, the "boss" who was in a position in which I had to hold myself in check when dealing with boards of directors whose members were, in some cases and on their best days, morons. And I had to put up with managing a staff of people who frequently did not measure up to my expectations. Frequently it wasn't the staff's fault; it was the board, which limited my resources so that I was not able to pay people of the caliber I needed and wanted to work with.

When my tolerance of that environment ended and I essentially told one board to either back off or replace me, they replaced me. It didn't take long after that for me to decide that working for a board of directors didn't fit me, nor did serving as "number two" to another Type A. So I started my own business, which put me in the position of reporting to several boards...boards that were my clients. And from there it got progressively worse.

But I tried to overlook the bad side and I hired some staff who could deal with boards instead of having to do it myself. But I couldn't make that a universal situation, so I have had to deal with boards regularly. They're not all bad...not even the majority. But I allow the ones who are to upset me so much that I can barely tolerate making the trip to my office.

My sister would tell me to put my "many talents" as she called them to other uses, things that would take advantage of them but would make me happy. She regularly encouraged me to write, having decided that I was a good writer and knowing that I enjoyed it. But I only enjoy it sometimes...when I'm in the right mood. And that can be a rarity.

I've come to the realization that what I'm after is independence and change. I don't want to do anything for very long. A month or two or three and I'm bored and ready for something new. So, what I am, in fact, is a lazy, self-indulgent complainer who has been unable or unwilling to try to make the best out of situations that are simply requirements of life. I want things that are not NEEDED...they are just wanted. I want. I want. I want. It's so upsetting to realize that I'm just an aging, spoiled brat who's never been happy, despite having been fortunate in so many ways.

I have always had enough money to live a decent life. My wife is wonderful and loves me and puts up with me. My immediate family is composed of people who are good and who I love and who love me. But I'm not satisfied.

I don't want to go to work from 8 to 5 and push paper. I don't want to react to the wishes of people who want things I find offensive or morally corrupt.

I still need to learn from my sister. She adapted to a life of relative poverty and she liked her life. She did things for others and make their lives happier. In her life, she had to adapt to being confined to a wheelchair. She didn't need to feel the freedom to hit the road; she adapted to the constraints life and circumstance placed on her.

My sister tried to teach me that I have what it takes to be happy, that all I have to do is to do what makes me happy. I wish she could have taught me what that is, what makes me happy? Maybe if I just knew what that was, I could be as good a person as she was. Until then, I suppose I'll just complain and bitch about life. What the fuck is it that makes some people like that? I don't like those people. How the hell did I become one?

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