March 7, 2012

Maybe it's Me: The Stagnation of 9 to 5, or, Change is the Only Constant

Stagnation is a dangerous thing in the natural world.

For example, stagnant water is a major environmental hazard because it becomes a breeding ground for diseases like malaria and insects like mosquitoes that can transmit the disease. It also becomes undrinkable as it provides the perfect incubating setting for both bacteria and parasites. And drinkable water is something our planet is unsettlingly short on, which is why there's so much effort to ensure clean water.

When air becomes stagnant, pollutants aren't cleared away and are thus inhaled. When animals become stagnant - when birds don't travels south, when elephants don't travel to find food sources - they perish. When soil becomes stagnant, organisms within it produce toxic chemicals that can have a severely negative impact on the health of plants.

So, what's the key element here?

Movement.

In this universe of ours, stagnation equals death.

It may seem extreme, but it's mind-boggling to me that while we strive so hard to prevent stagnation in our ecological environment, we don't do the same in our personal environments.

Maybe it's me, but when did monotony become mainstream for mankind?

"Change is the only constant." But is it anymore? Or is it just a paradox? It certainly doesn't seem to me that we're a people of change, especially the older we get and the less receptive we are to new ideas, new opportunities. For some, it's living somewhere that we don't particularly like calling "home" (whether that's geographically or the physical building in which we reside). For others, it's being stuck in an uninspired relationship that no longer fuels our soul. For most, I believe it's wasting away our most precious commodity - our time - during the peak years of our lives at a dead-end desk job we aren't invested in that does absolutely nothing to us in any way: not personally, not emotionally, not physically, not psychically.

I don't know many people who love their jobs. Who wake up feeling excited about their day ahead regardless if it's a Wednesday or a Saturday; or who go to bed feeling satisfied at the end of every day that they know was a well spent one. Most of the people I know are unfulfilled by their nine to five existences and live for the weekend. I don't know about you, but I want to live to live. I don't want the only time I feel alive to be a few waking hours a week. I don't want that to be the only thing that helps me get through the motions of every day.

That's a sad waste of a beautiful thing like life isn't it?

We weren't meant to be enslaved in jobs that make us feel like we're going nowhere fast. We weren't meant to feel dread when we force ourselves into work each morning, and then spend the rest of the day ambling around like zombies because our hearts, minds, hopes and dreams are all just dead. We weren't meant to watch our life tumble past us unenthusiastically from the sidelines, each day bleeding into the next until our past becomes an entirely unrecognizable blur of sameness.

The most important thing in life isn't quantitative data in a spreadsheet analyses, meetings in the conference room where only the most valued voices are recognized anyway, EBITDA's, or time sheets. The most important things in life - spending time with one's we love, doing what we're passionate about and were individually created to do (because I believe that we're all different: what motivates you, doesn't necessarily motivate me; as such, we shouldn't all be doing some variation of the same task - there is a unique job out there for you that you were born to do and love, as there is for me), and giving back to the world - are being missed while these things become our sole focus and reason for existence day in and day out until retirement.

If there is such a thing as "retirement" when I'm - we're - older . . . which I don't expect there to be. There's nothing left for our government to help us with at this point, so I've fully embraced the idea that, if nothing in my world changes, I will probably work until the day I die.

And so will you.

At the end of a work day, when people utter phrases like "Another day down!" I often wonder if they realize the full implication of what they're saying. Because they're basically insinuating that another day, like every other undistinguishable day before it, has finished bringing us closer to some kind of end. An end of what? The week? And then what? Death?

Once we have a place to live, a partner, and a job why are we then expected to stay with those choices forever? These aren't life sentences -they were the best decisions we could make for ourselves at a very specific time in our life. I'm by no means fickle or flighty, but I do recognize that we're constantly evolving as individuals. Who I was in my early twenties is not who I am in my later twenties - and I expected that, just as I realize bits and pieces of me will be different still in a few years from now. The core of who I am will remain the same, but certain aspects of me will be forever altered by moments in time and life experiences that have yet to happen, and those people who will undoubtedly come into and out of my life.

Which means I may very well outgrow where I live, who I'm with, or (especially) the job I have. Why do we try to convince ourselves that this absolutely will never happen? Why is our answer to movement, progress, or any other kind of change monotony?

Remaining stagnant while the rest of the world - both fauna and flora - remains active and responsive to those things that fluctuate around and within them is not a solution - that's a death sentence.

It isn't selfish to want more, to want something different from life. To be happy.

And as much as you'd like to believe, it isn't selfless to bite your tongue and simply be content with your lot in life either just so that you don't upset or disrupt the balance of other people's worlds. You're doing both yourself and everyone around you an injustice by doing that. If people aren't challenged, if people aren't pushed to their breaking point, how will any of us ever grow as the unique individuals we were meant to be?

What we need is "selfness." An awareness that we are capable of so much more and the desire to achieve that without being held back by how we think others may react to it, or consequentially be effected by it.

We need to be able to recognize when our lives have gone stale; when our lives have become stagnant. Then we need to . . . we have to . . . be able to move forward. And hope the people around us will be inspired to do so, too.

Because change really is the only constant.

And in this entire universe, we're the only one's unyielding. The only ones afraid of it. We don't realize that stagnation - that failure to develop any further or move beyond where we are now - is truly the most dangerous thing in the world.

And what a sad waste of a beautiful thing like life that is.