QUESTION: Is the world as harsh as everyone makes it sound?
“ANXIETY” (or: Man’s Failure to Relinquish Faux Control Over the Uncontrollable”)
— Brian John Schaefer, charcoal + paper (2016)
The “world” (people) is what you allow it to be and how you navigate yourself within it (relationships, interactions, etc) is what defines your existence. Some will point to family, or careers, or social circles, or status, or a lover, or money, as the thing that puts the capital “W” into Who they are. Well, that’s easy enough isn’t it? “I’m a loyal loving husband and father and I make sure my home is comfortable for my wife and kids and I’m determined to make sure that we grow as a family and learn to love and support each other until the end…”
And then Super Dad doesn’t get the promotion he expected. That he counted on. He hinged upon. He felt was *his* without a single doubt to cloud his expectations. And despite him doing everything “right” (no such thing) and all that he had to do (apparently it wasn’t), he was looked over (wronged) for a coworker who he had little respect for, specifically because of what the coworker represented to him. A kiss-ass. A yes man. A bandwagon company flagwaver that had an ease about him that always grated our jilted uber-provider by being everything he didn’t respect in his idea of a model employee. Namely, work ethic. Going the extra yard. Taking one for the team. Never saying “no” when you really want to say “NO”. And instead, just being liked by those he worked with. Liked enough to get ahead in that singular realm of his company’s dynamic and hierarchy.
And despite all the horrors borne from mankind’s animalistic and instinctual drive to survive (defeat others vying for their own survival) and all the ethical and moral shortcomings he believes the the “world” (competitors, lesser men and women) lacks, his decisions to do right by his family, follow a straight and socially minted path toward achievement and success, have failed him in this one instance, just one life experience, of not being chosen for a position in which he is convinced he has earned, in which he is entitled, one that he was robbed of by an inferior coworker (world) and the company higher-ups (world).
Regardless of what kind of personal strength and secure personality he had before he didn’t get the promotion, the feeling he experiences after not getting it is one that is akin to a young girl whose father died in a car accident before she was a teen, or a refugee from a war-torn country who will never see what was left of his life ever again.
“What? How in the hell could anyone possibly compare those life experiences?”
I’ll tell you why. In short, they’ve all been cheated. Dealt a lousy hand. Screwed over through no apparent fault of their own. And they don’t just feel it. It’s part of their marrow now. It’s something that will never go away.
But that’s the thing. That’s it. That’s the harshness you speak of and won’t know unless or until you experience it. “Why me? What did I do to deserve this? Who did this to me?”
The world (people, nature, life itself) only happens. Sure, people and their motivations can confound even the most forgiving and sympathetic of souls and their actions absolutely can have serious consequences (murder, back-stabbing, deceit) on anyone who has the misfortune of being in their path. Yet, one’s confusion and disbelief of why something has happened or what caused so-and-so to position himself to get the promotion over you is the exact moment in which an opinion such as “the world is a dire place” can manifest itself.
And now Super Dad wears his disappointment on his face. He doesn’t laugh and engage with his kids at breakfast like he had done their entire lives. He’s distant toward his wife. He retreats inward where it’s safe and easy to have resentment and thoughts of revenge and think of ideas he had never entertained before.
But it doesn’t matter that they’re new to *him*. What matters is that his ideas have been shaped by a force he can neither control or predict. And it’s precisely at this juncture that one can begin to pad the paranoid distrust we’re all capable of after we feel we’ve been wronged.
Or we don’t.
And instead start looking for a better job. And not letting the world restrict our intended goal of raising kind and intelligent children and making their mother proud and feel appreciated and loved.
The world is music. The DJ can be anyone at any given time. The tune he or she plays is playing whether you like it or not. Knowing how to dance or sit the song out or point out to others why it isn’t worth listening to is very simply, Life and How We Live It.
“It’s time I show you how to tango…”
“Awww…Do I have to?”
“Like your life depended on it…Now, listen to the rhythm, do the Hokey Pokey, and turn yourself around…Atta boy…”