I was in an AA coffee shop when a worker there told me that many people who were instrumental in her initial steps in recovery were now relapsed.
My heart broke. I have been struggling this past winter. I let the whole world know through my blog: this is my life and, for the moment, it sucks. Apparently others around here feel similarly and are dealing with it even more poorly than myself.
Dots started getting connected. How long can people do without a job or even a remote hope of getting one? How long does one live without hope? Define “living”. I’ve been so busy digging myself out of my own pit that I hadn’t noticed others mired in theirs. The person telling me this did not know that just a few hours earlier my god sister told me that she had just lost her minimum-wage job because she couldn’t keep up with the output quota. Seriously? A quota for a job where you still qualify for welfare? And we wonder why so many people are “mentally ill.”
How can I help? I have to be more functional before I can reach down into someone else’s pit.
I looked around and saw that there is no longer any kid of social/financial safety net for people anymore. I don’t know if it is fixable or if we should just start over. It would not shock me to hear a few years from now about an ongoing suicide problem in Michigan. Hopefully, by then, I will be long gone. Living without hope or sunshine is a bit much.
But people do not acknowledge the problems because they have come upon us so incrementally. I hear people say all the time (including my god sister), “I’ll be fine.” They still falsely assume that a social safety next exists. It reminds me of an old episode of Roseanne. She and Dan were having financial problems and someone told her, “Don’t worry. Things will be fine.” Her response was perfect. “‘Standing on our own two feet’ fine? Or ‘eating government cheese’ fine?” In other words: define fine.
The normal translation of dukkha is “suffering” and I think that covers the more dramatic and sudden situations, but there is also another translation that I simply love: “unsatisfactoriness.” I think that covers the bulk of human experiences: not quite fulfilling.
I feel like my job now is to get on my own two feet so I can help others.
I am very sad now. One of my best friends will be leaving Michigan. She has been looking for employment elsewhere, but she was just informed that her hours will be cut at the non-profit she works for. I will help her pack. I am helping her look for jobs in Maine, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.
This is how bad it is. People who are serious about paying back their student loans are forced to seek employment out-of-state. She does not want to leave. Most of her children live here. Others where she works are also leaving the state.
One is moving to Wisconsin, for a job that pays 70K. For some reason, that’s where he wants to live. It wouldn’t be my choice. It’s no warmer there than here. If I am going to go to the trouble of packing up all my crap and relocating, it will be to somewhere with better weather, not some other northern-tier state. I got an MBA so I can find work any darn place I want.
I never thought she would leave the state before me. But she has to go. Eventually, I will as well.
Buddhism’s word for suffering is “dukkha.” I love the translation of “unsatisfactoriness.” The original meaning is all about a wheel that does not turn properly; in other words, it is stuck or makes noise. The recipe for suffering is this: life changes and you do not change with it. Instead, you pretend things haven’t really changed.
That’s the strategy of Michigan businesses: demand graduate-level qualifications and offer $10/hour in return and then whine that qualified applicants for positions cannot be found. When Michigan was full of good-paying factory jobs, educated spouses could be underpaid with no negative consequences. There is no “skills gap.” Don’t buy the business community’s propaganda. In reality, it is a “compensation gap.” The “skills gap” theory explains nothing and mystifies the obvious: employers demand MIT qualifications and offer Burger King wages.
My heart breaks. I miss her already. As for Michigan businesses, I have no pity. They brought much of this upon themselves. Let’s see what they have to say when they can’t pay enough to keep educated people in the state, no matter how they offer.