The Flight of the Drones

Given that this evening our President will be making his annual State of the Union speech, I have a DC-centric theme for this post. Patriotism is abundant in this country, so nobody would expect the nation’s capital of our Ship of State to be anything other than vibrant. After all, Washington DC is a great city, populated with all sorts of energetic and ambitious go-getters determined to make the world a better place. On the news, we see shots of monuments sparkling at night, limousines rushing down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the White House, and Important People dressed in pin striped suits (Congress notwithstanding). Alas, current conditions ‘round here are a lot more akin to the stomachache Shirley Temple complains of On the Good Ship Lollipop.

 

Recently, Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney wrote a piece that examines the sluggish economic growth that has befallen this region over the past three years (the exact, same years I’ve been back in town). He quotes a development expert as pointing out that the presence of bustling restaurants is a good example of ways people ignore the weak underpinnings of the job market. Those who have jobs are oblivious to the increasing seriousness of the problem for those who don’t. I am one such person and my struggles to make professional and financial headway in DC are very real. McCartney segues from the lack of job growth to the crumbling condition of the region’s infrastructure—our roads, bridges, and mass transportation were not designed to withstand current usage. In other words, although things may appear to be a hive of activity, the underpinnings have fractured significantly.

 

The “Flight of the Bumblebee” is an orchestral interlude composed by Nikolai Rimsky- Korsakov at the turn of the century; just about everyone has heard it at one point or another. I consider this piece a fitting accompaniment to McCartney’s column because when I listen to it, it reminds me of the high, whiny noise that indicates frenetic movement but disappears into thin air an instant later. Such superficial busyness can distract us from addressing core issues which make the difference between how, or if, we move forward. The same can be said about the process of re-booting our lives. Too often, we can get lost in the immediate and conveniently disregard fractures in our foundation. Although addressing such internal issues can feel uncomfortable, it does not serve us to close our eyes, murmuring that it will all go away, if only we wait long enough…

 

As I have struggled with re-booting my life here in DC, I have asked myself whether I am the Grasshopper or the Ant? When I was employed, my answer was, easily, the ant—I was all work all the time; pleasure was not part of my vocabulary. Now, I don’t know what I am. Have you ever felt that way? Aesop cautioned us, long ago, against the perils of putting off tomorrow what should be done today. We would be wise to take heed and take action in order to avoid the fate of the Grasshopper. As for me, I finally got to a point where I could delay no longer, so I took a clerical job. To accommodate the demands of my new temp job, I arise early, hustling down to Dupont Circle via the sporadic subway service that is Metro. Half awake, I stare at the coat encased worker bees gathering around me on the grimy platform, waiting their turn to crowd onto the trains, their eyes fixed on a spot on the floor, headphones drowning out all ambient sound. I have this odd feeling of isolation in the midst of a throng. To distract myself, I often dream up names for local sports teams such as the Washington Drones with a dancing bureaucrat as mascot.

 

I realize I’ve rambled in this post, but sometimes such sidestepping is necessary in order to tackle uncomfortable realities. You may not be struggling in terms of employment, but you’re struggling with something. What is it? What honest, first step can you take to begin to sort it out? Or are you busying yourself with a rearranging of deck chairs?

Ship run aground

 

 

 

 

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