Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Ambition

Yesterday was a good day off from the job, and the point of the previous post is relevant but seems to downplay ambition. I later felt as if I had denied its need. Of course, a day off spent relaxed can make me feel that way, but speaking for myself, life isn't easy and I hope I bring this life to a better self-establishment before I "retire." (I plan to keep on writing.) That's not likely, and if I don't earn enough royalties to finally let go of wage jobs, retirement will get me out of them anyway.

Many years ago at Hampshire College where all of us, students and faculty alike, labored under the motto "To know is not enough," attributed to ancient Athenian philosopher Aristotle, I received stellar evaluations for my first semester's work. Then I went to the shore for the summer, into my sixth year licensed as a commercial clammer, and felt a very deep affirmation for that work in the wild bays, the freedom of that self-employed lifestyle, and the depth of insight this life engendered. I went back for the fall semester and found myself completely at odds with the college program. In December, I took a leave of absence, booked an apartment in Beach Haven, struggled to decide whether or not to return to college...and after a month of back-and-forth, withdrew my enrollment. I did earn an Associate degree--Liberal Arts--at Raritan Valley Community College, 2006.

I had gone on clamming until 1993. When I returned to mainstream America, I had no degree, no regular employment to claim on a resume. Pretty much no more than a social security number. I asked myself what I had for any woman to feel any interest in dating me. One of my many notebooks bears the answer. "Language." She would have to be intellectual, of course. She would have to be this in any case. Actually, I found I had more than words, as my wife, Patricia, was attracted to my family's musical endeavor. My father is now Director Emeritus of the American Boychoir School.

Finding employment wasn't difficult. I built up a resume and by 2001 landed a good job in Operations with New Jersey's largest credit union. They eliminated my position in 2015, and since then, I've found work, but not corporate work as was my former job and I yet hope to find. It won't be a job involving long driving distance every day. Such jobs have vanished not only from the credit union I worked for.

I have to pay for the freedom I enjoyed in the past. Clamming paid well. But of course, it couldn't last, not in an honorable way fitting a man with the family background I have and the need of social connection a writer depends on. My dad was trenchantly emphatic. He wanted me out of clamming long before I left the Island. It's why I've worked wage jobs ever since. But better than pay for that freedom as if it were a sin, maybe it can yet inspire my best written work. And any of you who read this blog regularly, you know I express connection to the wilds and account for them not as something other than the real world, but as essential to what the real world is. I was deep into the wilds before I went to the shore, but those early years and the shore ensure days like yesterday relieve me of job hardship.  

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