Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Diametric Employment Rates Of Heaven And Earth

Heaven is about comfort, not spectacle, most people don't know that until they get here. One of the earthbound concerns alleviated by the heavenly existence is the need for money. As an angel, you need to keep that in perspective so you don't forget how important financial health is. They say it's not everything, and it doesn't buy happiness, but the truth is, unless you're living off the land somewhere, it's a necessity. Money is a major source of pain in the vast majority of the world. Few things cause as much individual anxiety and group infighting as money does. You know, musician David Byrne of the Talking Heads once said "I was never in it for the money." Hate to break this to you , you arrogant douchebag, but yes you are. Because it's your job. If you're not in it for the money, fine, give it all back and live destitute on the street. That's exactly the kind of loss of perspective that, as an angel, you need to avoid.

And that's one of the reason's you can't forget what you're doing. It's a shame to say, but in the current state of the economy, the angel business is one of the few industries that's booming. That's probably why I became an angel in the first place; high demand. With so much economic misery, the divine army had to be understaffed. I imagine that if I'd died during the peace and prosperity of 1990's I probably would have never become an angel in the first place. But I didn't, so I did. So in a way, the failed trickle down politics of the Republicans might be the very reason I got the halo. It's a divine miracle; someone not in the upper three percent actually benefited from them. Hallelujah. Much rejoicing.

I know I normally don't get political because that's not the point I'm trying to make. Then again, in these trying times, I see a lot of people losing the hope they've been clinging to. So I'm not here to tell people who to vote for, I just want them to see the big picture. Change takes time. I know that sounds like a cop out cover story that's meant to hide the truth, but this time, it is the truth. Don't believe me? Go back and take a look at the state of the country back in January of 1994. Right, not a very good one. Take a look at what happened soon thereafter. Ok, convinced? Maybe, maybe not. But you have hope now, right? Be honest. Deep down, I think you do.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Burning The Midnight Bridges

One of the many reasons behind my disdain of humanity is the destruction of faith caused when you trust people to know what they're doing instead if intervening, and then find out the hard way they don't. There's a fine line in angeldom; there's a certain degree to which you leave people to find the answers on their own, otherwise they'll never grow as a result of the experience. So at what point do you decide when they're ready to have their epiphany and when they need the push in that direction? Normally it's not an issue because our typical assignments are people at crisis points. But you never know. And if you hesitate, you run the risk of your subject hurting the people around them.

Case in point, there's a man trying to provide for his family, let's call him Reggie. So Reggie works in an office, so it's not an issue of earning overtime for the extra money. What he's doing is putting in extra work in an attempt to get ahead. His hope is to pay dividends down the road by earning promotions and extra money. But in the present, he's missing out on his family. His wife and children miss him and feel his work ethic is only hurting them. But this isn't the reason I had to go to him. The problem is he feels the same way. He's miserable without the people he loves, but feels he needs to reach his goal. When I was first handed the job, I spent some time observing, hoping he'd wise up. Eventually his ten year old daughter came hope with a test score she was proud of, but there was no daddy to share the good news with. When he finally did come home early enough to see her, tired and cranky, he coldly brushed her off, telling her, "Just show me later, ok?" When she started tearing up, I knew it was time to go to work.

I went to his office posing as a freelance temp one night when he was still working at 2 in the morning. With his inhibitions lowered from fatigue, confessed his dilemma. I told him, "You know, a lot of people are so goal oriented that they never stop to think about what they have."

"But you gotta see the big picture," he said. "You don't think about things down the road, you'll never accomplish anything."

"You'll never be happy either," I said. "There's always gonna be another goal: if you're a supervisor, you wanna be a senior supervisor. Then an executive, then a vice-president or whatever, then the next rung and the next. Life just becomes a series of steps, and no matter where you are, you always feel you're in a state of inferiority. But you have a family. Lots of people don't. You don't have to be company president to take joy from that."

He said, "Maybe,"and I pretended to go back to work. I wasn't sure if I got through to him, but the next night, he left at seven o'clock. It's a start.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hope Is The New Forty

It's disturbing to think about it this way, but death is a way of achieving immortality. Existence on the physical plain is short compared to that on the ethereal plain. It's not just a sad notion, it's an exploited one. Most religions are built on a foundation of this belief, it's their way of controlling minds by playing into the fears of aging and death: follow our ways and and you'll exist forever. But it's sad, using this as a guiding belief simply misses the point. The whole purpose of life is challenge and the rewards you reap when they're faced. Death is just comfort; it's not the reward that comes at the end of life, it's the consolation.

Unfortunately, life compresses a wealth of pressures into its short span and comes prepackaged with a set of goals. This is why the fear of aging is so pronounced. It wouldn't be an issue if so many people didn't see time passage as an obstacle. Take this job I had the other day. The new year is only a few days old, and this guy, we'll call him Stan, acted like his life was over as soon as that ball in Times Square landed. After I got to know him and asked why, he said, "I'm gonna be forty this year."

"When?" I asked.


"Hey, forty's no big deal! And if it were, you still have a few months."

"Yeah," he said, "but whenever the new year starts, I already feel the age that I'm gonna turn that year."

"Oh. Well, I know, it's like, you reach a certain age and you're disappointed you haven't accomplished what you wanted to."

"Well, kind of. It's more like, well you know, all those statistics they have, that say if you haven't gotten those things by a certain age, you never will."

That kind of threw me a little. As bitter as I was about my life, I never had to deal with that. Forty was about a decade away when I died. When Shannon left, I was focused on life without her, not the possibility of life without anyone.

"They can play with statistics all they want," I said. "But your fate isn't based on some kind of sabermetrics book, life isn't a formula. You want to life life by odds, fine. But you know, odds don't control you, you do. Don't let some statistic tell you what you can or can't have. If you just gave in to that, then what's the point of life anyway?"

"Good point," he said.

So, I didn't solve his problem; the guy's still gonna turn forty. But I could tell I gave him hope. And we're not problem solvers, we're angels.