I’m trying to remain positive, trying to find optimism, trying not to succumb to the mounting frustration that gnaws at me every day. But it’s not easy. When cat memes go viral, when horrifically written novels sell millions of copies, when shoddy journalism prevails, when everything that garners national publicity seems substandard, it’s hard not to allow the negative to overwhelm my consciousness. When students day after day show less and less regard for knowledge, less and less concern for their own abilities, less and less connection to the world outside their smart phones, less and less ability to do for themselves, it’s hard not to hate what’s been done to education. But I’m trying.
Those of you who haven’t spent decades of your life studying a craft, pouring everything you have into creating something, and struggling for years just to get noticed, can’t possibly fathom how much it stings to watch steaming piles of manure rake in millions of dollars. It’s not that I write for the money. I don’t. I write because that’s who I am, and I’m pretty damned good at it, too. But the simple reality of this world is that we need money to survive, and not being able to break through that barrier of earning a living by my craft grates on me every moment of every day, especially when I see so much mediocrity succeeding in so many venues. I don’t want to grow cold and bitter, but it’s not easy.
Those of you who haven’t stood in front of a room of students and tried to share knowledge with them, can’t fathom how frustrating it is to watch them text and tweet or stare into the distance with slack-jawed apathy. You can’t understand how hard it is to find the motivation to continue when instead of blaming the students for being lazy, disconnected, and stupid, administration blames teachers for not “engaging” them properly. You can’t fathom how hard it is to squelch the scream building in the pit of my stomach as I want to grab them by the shoulders, shake the hell out of them, and wake them from whatever zombie-robot-drone slumber they’re gripped by. I don’t want to lose hope for the future, but it’s not easy.
Those of you who haven’t been shackled by the modern indentured servitude of child support can’t fathom how maddening it is to work 60 hours a week and barely keep enough of your earnings to survive. And no matter how much you loathe your job you can’t just walk away because the system has the authority to jail you and revoke your driving privileges and label you a deadbeat dad for missing those payments. If you haven’t been through it, you can’t comprehend the prison that creates, feeling tethered to a job in an economy with little opportunity for change by fear of contempt of court. I don’t want to live my life angry and spiteful, but it’s not easy.
I want to be an upbeat, positive person. I want to greet each day as a new opportunity for growth and renewal, but it’s hard to find positive day in and day out. I want to believe that my life hasn’t been futile, but sitting here mired in obscurity while my country devolves into the New Dark Ages, it’s difficult not to feel as if all the career choices I’ve made are wrong. I feel obsolete, small, and insignificant. I feel trapped in a system that punishes hard work and rewards sloth. I want to believe that tomorrow is a new day and that better times await, but everything tangible in my life points in a different direction. I want to find the motivation to trudge forward and press on, and it’s not easy. But I’m trying.