Monday, March 05, 2018

On being useless

In Deming, New Mexico

A brief reflection on my life in work.

With respect to the economy and current trends, I am repeatedly confronted with a feeling of obsolescence.

Part of this feeling is that I live in a peculiar generation where I have seen the technology ordinary people use on a daily basis evolve rapidly. I'm not especially old for a human being (having recently hit 47 years), but daily life now is so different from what I witnessed through my teens it is dizzying to contemplate.

Yet part of the reality is that when it comes to employing myself by some means or other, I seem drawn to activities that are considered passé, like writing letters.

When it comes to making a living, I have proven "useless" as an economic actor as well although I have been capable and successful at a range of low-level jobs. 

First I was a stage actor at a time when audiences for live theatre are diminishing. Film and television found little use for me either.

(Touring with a circus in 1997)

Then I tried being a teacher, but firmly rooted in the humanities, teaching things that public education doesn't much value anymore.

(Teaching for NMSU in 2013, I think.)

Now I am a journalist trying to write things for people who like to read, at a time when readers are diminishing and I'm being told to focus more of my time on photo galleries and videos.

(Posing with a plaque I got for one of my wordy columns in 2017.)

Even my personal theatre practice seems to be turning back toward a more primitive mode, not dependent on lights or amplified sound, just Randy and me telling stories and playing instruments for the small number of people who turn up. (We've performed for as few as a dozen, and as many as 100.)

I'm useful around the house for reaching things on high shelves and helping wash dishes, to be sure, but late-stage capitalist industries have little use for my strengths or passions.


Maria Ehlers said...

How about your skills as a moderator? Surely that's marketable, especially since you are comfortable with online conversation.

Karen said...

You are far from useless to me. You are a storehouse of memories, a personality, an emoter, an empath, a comforter, an offerer of perspective, a brightness in time of darkness. Your worth exceeds dollar amounts and confounds societal norms. 'Twas ever thus.

Algernon said...

Hi Maria - I hope you are settling in well at the library! I can't imagine being a full-time moderator of a venue like the Deming Facebook group. Ooof.

Hi Karen - What's all this humanism?? Show me some exchange value! :-)