I have at least four friends struggling at least as much as I am. Each of us has hopes for how things will be and feel that we're coming up short. We all feel the gravitational pull of depression, the whirlpool spin of anxiety. It's said that misery loves company, but I wouldn't wish any of this on my worst enemy. I wouldn't even wish it on management at my job.
Speaking of which, five colleagues said today that they don't think they can come back to the job next year. One day, five people, desperation swimming in their eyes and vibrating in their voices. I nodded and said I'm sorry. Not that it's my fault, but I know the feeling. The mood on the job is dismal and getting worse. I don't see any hope there as I prepare my jump out the side door and pull the rip cord on my chute. I'll drift to a landing. Everyone left on board will crash and burn, I'm sorry to say.
I have much higher hopes for my friends outside of the job. Tonight I finished reading Robin Sloan's Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore which is one of my favorite books this year even if it came out 2012. A paragraph near the end gives me the hope I need. It says:
There is no immortality that is not built on friendship and work done with care. All the secrets in the world worth knowing are hiding in plain sight. It takes forty-one seconds to climb a ladder three stories tall. It's not easy to imagine the year 3012, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. We have new capabilities now — strange powers we're still getting used to. The mountains are a message from Aldrag the Wyrm-Father. Your life must be an open city, with all sorts of ways to wander in.
A lot of that doesn't make sense without reading the book, so buy it now and read it already. Even without reading every page, there's enough in that paragraph to build good hope.
To each of my friends struggling, we are immortal because of our friendship and the careful work we do running, reading, teaching, making art, raising our kids, loving our partners, cherishing our memories, or maybe even writing.
The secrets are right here before us. Yeah, I know you can see them too. The mountains, the drumlins all aligned, the Finger Lakes, the Thousand Islands, the sunset off the shore of Oswego, the path the dog takes through the neighborhood, the accumulating and then melting snow, the electronic signals connecting us across a world wide web, all of these are messages of hope.
My job is in a closed and walled ghetto, but every so often I remember that life is an open city and just reading a book is one way to wander in and invite others to join me. Come on, it's quitting time. There's plenty of light still in the sky and we're all together in this. I have the feeling, tonight at least, that we might just go on forever.