Watch the old Popeye cartoons. Skip the regular dialogue and try to follow what he says between the lines. There’s a lot of mumbling going on. A friend is amidst dark and empty times and described moment-by-moment existence as “mumbling things through”. In the darkest times what else is there to say? All we can do is mumble through. I know the feeling. It was late. We were chatting on facebook. I went to bed; and the wordsmith in my head turned on and played with the rest of the alphabet. Evidently these are ‘umbling times. (Insert your favorite ‘umble letter: f, m, h, t, r, j, b)
My story goes back to fumbling wealth by trying to be prudent, trying to reach consensus, then getting a divorce, then buying a home at the wrong time (financially), then trusting to institutions, rationality, networking, and hard work. What I need and could use is more good luck; like those fumbles in football that result in touchdowns.
I am living a very humbling experience that challenges conventional wisdom and pithy sayings. I watch the political parties from the periphery because their platitudes sound hollow and false. Great credentials can be a hindrance. The courage to engage in passionate and adventurous ways of life can feel silly if they don’t work. Successes spawned by passions are great stories, but the term “starving artist” exists because there are so many examples of passions pursued that end in struggle. Parents advice about day jobs is based on experience. Listening to the litany of “I told you so”s or “What you should’ve done”s is half of a moot conversation that is frequently endured.
A course of inauspicious events tumbles a person. Where there was an expectation of a solid step, there was instead a slippery board. Reach to a structure for support, and the arm finds a door or a window instead of a beam. String those together for months and the video is slapstick and a pratfall that will be funny from a distance or in retrospect.
Stress builds and rumbles are audible. Some people think I am hungry, but usually when they hear my stomach it is not from lack of food but from lack of relief. Disappointment, regret, and worry must be sounded out sometime and somehow. If it isn’t through voice, at least for me it is through my gut.
Attempts at a variety of solutions leaves my head with a jumble of thoughts. Would’ve’s, Could’ve’s, Should’ve’s, swirl amongst themselves and through Will’s, Can’s, and Should’s. Failed plans and missed opportunities compete for attention with more plans and possibilities. There are no probabilities because the success rate in the past has been zero, or not enough; and the success rate in the future is academic. There’s no way to know what bit of hard work, networking, innovation, serendipity, or good luck will finally win through. The possibility of never seeing success again is demoralizing, and makes it difficult to find confidence in any plan.
Bumbling happens, and is one way that people meet serendipity. Traveling without a plan, bumping into whatever appears, may be all that is left. If planning in the past hasn’t succeeded, maybe not planning is the thing to try. If doing the right thing is unsuccessful, maybe doing the wrong thing (in the right way) will succeed (so I’ve been advised.) Pick a general direction and intent, trust the universe, and see what happens along that path. A toe may get stubbed, or an elbow bumped, but a little less grace may allow much freer progress.
This is word play, but it is also a view into the shadowed aspects of many lives. People who just smile and say little because the answer to “How’s it going?” doesn’t fit into polite conversation. I do either depending on the day. Today’s not one of the better days. I missed out on a job that made me eager to say Yes. Many people assured me that I’d get it. Who else would have better qualifications? Evidently, someone.
This post is inspired by my stoic and dismayed friend, but my news for today brings these issues to mind with emotion instead of abstraction. As writers know, writing from the heart is different than writing from the head; so, I let it happen.
Coincidently, the entry level version of my old job at Boeing popped up in today’s job search. I applied. It also popped up last fall, and I applied, and I didn’t get it; but, maybe yet.
Tomorrow is my Social Media For Artists class. (Which is one reason I post this on Friday instead of Saturday.) The class was inspired by the Whidbey Island Open Studio Tour and even requested by a number of the artists on the Tour, but the only people who have signed up are writers from off-island. Drop-ins are welcome. Maybe a dozen people will show up at the last minute. If they do, I’ll try not to fumble the intro. Or mumble. And I’ll humbly thank them for attending. And deliver a hopefully coherent tumble of words, ideas, concepts, and stories. And we’ll see if my stomach rumbles. And we’ll try to keep the cords from becoming a jumble. And somehow we’ll bumble through. Evidently, it is what I do.