I was reflecting today on how important we like to think we are. I suppose most people are not as bad as I, but I feel as though I need to be needed; otherwise, I don’t feel I am living a life. I had a job with one firm for 17 years and I foolishly thought I was irreplaceable. I am not alone in foolishness. Others told me I was irreplaceable. Maybe they were trying to make me feel okay about going to work 9 hours a day, 250 days per year for 17 years. When they threw me out as they did with many others, particularly the irreplaceable ones, I found that I did not even leave the presence of a shadow at the firm. How frustrating is that? There is no trace of anything I have done. That sucks.
One learns not only to devalue one’s work but also to denigrate it and reduce the effect of caring about what one does. As It turns out, there really is no need for the hit-by-a-bus test or the Powerball test because almost all workers are worthless pieces that are easily replaceable. It is hard when you lose your idealism and realize this at a relatively old age. How much of my life have I wasted?
Back to today, even when thinking of friends who are close (or family, heaven forbid), we are completely replaceable. I thought about the light bulb – Yes, we serve some purpose and we shine a light, hopefully a bright light for people who are close to us, but when we burn out, they don’t fix us. They go to the store and get a new light bulb.
This reminds me of the propensity of modern pop music lyricists who tend to say something about how this person or that person should “shine on.” The most pronounced version that I always think of is the Pink Floyd one, but there are many others. Singers never ask you to dim your shine. They want you to shine on. Shine on. I don’t know if I can ever remember shining, much less shining on. I wonder when I burned out. How long ago was that? How long have I been without a purpose? I understand why I am so perfectly replaceable.
This is a depressing line of thought. Can I blame clinical depression for being Debbie Downer? Not really. I can blame thinking too much about purpose. If we all thought about purpose, the entire world would be insane and frightened as I am for most of my days. The only thing I can do is go out and have compassion for people and love people, and maybe people will catch me at least reflecting if I am incapable of shining. Concentrating on compassion is the only tool I can think of for deterring this bright sense of worthlessness.