In the post Running on Empty, I talked about the psychological fuel we burn to do our daily tasks. The glass holding it can be tall or short, fill fast or in a trickle, but it’s always important to know both so we can try to effectively budget ourselves. The rate at which it fills might be equated to resiliency, a common term used in first responder circles, and one that was at the centre of a conference I attended not long ago (An Unexpected Journey). I’m not entirely sure yet how I might easier describe the fill level that is unique to each of us in a single word like that, but if you think of it as a finite amount of fuel in a tank you’ll get it. My tank is like that you might find in a Smart Car or a Nissan Micra. Yours may be like a big old Buick land yacht, and someone else’s (lucky bastard) the double tanks on the side of a truck. Mine fills pretty slowly, though I’ve been working diligently on replacing the hose.
There’ll probably be nothing particularly insightful here today. My fuel level is pretty low right now, along with my mood, so you’d be forgiven for tabbing back to Facebook or Twitter right now if you like.
Even with the most careful budgeting of your personal resources, your inner psychological fuel, there will be times when your needs simply cannot be met and you’ll be left with a deficit. When those needs include some obligations you’ve made to friends, as mine do, things you’ve left until others have been taken care of, then comes the guilt and a little bit of shame at your inability to be the good and reliable buddy. I try to remember that these are not helpful. They’re valid emotions, with a purpose, but Goddamn useless and essentially damaging when you can’t respond to them properly.
So they sit there next to your general melancholy, all soaking in existential angst like something out of a Samuel Beckett play. Spoiler alert: Godot is not coming.
As the end of the month approaches, I tend to get this way, primarily because of my finances (or lack thereof) and my inability to do anything about them that would have any immediate impact. I get antsy about the level of food in my pantry and my appetite that always seems to want to snack on something, about the number of cigarettes I’m smoking (please don’t tell me how much I can save by quitting. I’ve enough stressors in my life, thanks). I get email bills for Internet access and electricity that I purposely do not look at until I have absolutely no choice. Pretty faithfully and on schedule I begin to think about cancelling my auto insurance for the extra $70 I’ll have to work with, but then how do I get out to spend it? I wonder if the sim card in my cellphone has been deactivated and the number given to someone else because I haven’t been able to put any credit on it for a long time.
That happened with my last phone number, and as bad as it may be it does give me a chuckle thinking about that poor guy getting calls from collection agencies no matter how hard he tries to convince them he’s not me. That’s horrible, I shouldn’t do that.
Sometimes I entertain the idea of getting a part-time job before I remember what happened the last few times I did that. I did once work for a living, honestly.
Dignity, that thin film we wear over our faces, is difficult to maintain, though integrity, rooted solidly in the core of my being, is still rock-solid even if it does sometimes sway in the strong winds blowing through its branches. I am glad of that, at least.
On the benefit statement I get each month from the Ontario Disability Support Program, it splits the total amount into two specific categories. Shelter, of course, is pretty self-explanatory, but the term basic needs always bewilders me. I recognise, that being an unwieldy government bureaucracy, their definition of it is limited to only those things the body requires to keep from dropping dead, only that and a sparse wee amount of it too. Sure, drugs are mostly covered, we do enjoy socialised health care for the most part, but is this the sum total of our basic needs as human beings?
Once I tried to get them to consider my Internet access as medically required. Though my doctor might agree, and to me it is as important as food, no, that was a bit of a stretch.
Perhaps the point of this whining stream of consciousness crap is to recognise that despite the best of intentions, despite an attitude that is generally okay and a perspective that seeks to always look towards the journey ahead, moments of despair, mild to wild, will come when our psychological fuel is exhausted. It isn’t always based on the practical effects of a bank account deep into its overdraft, either, and that’s an important thing to remember as well.
So right now I will acknowledge it and let it run its course, knowing I have my basic needs fulfilled for today, and that maybe, just maybe, Godot will come tomorrow as the boy said he might.
Waiting for Godot a play by Samuel Beckett