Glory is that Bright Tragic Thing
that for an instant, means dominion.
That’s one of my favorite lines from any poem ever. It’s an Emily Dickinson poem that ends:
Warms some poor name
That never felt the Sun,
In oblivion —
I really like it and I recall it anytime I’m down. I just quit my job a couple of days ago, and I’m feeling a little out of sorts. It doesn’t help that my lease ends at the end of the month. It’s a very disorienting feeling. I’m sad about my job, because not only does it reinforce the growing body of evidence that I can’t keep a job, but I kind of liked this one. This is actually the first job I left with a very good reason. My boss was treating me like shit, and I always tell myself that anybody was ever really treating me like shit, I’d walk away. There’s no worse feeling than being kicked around and then going home every night and knowing that you just took it. It was the kind of thing where I had sneaking bad feelings about the person from day one, but the good aspects of the job outweighed my reservations. I sort of knew that there would be a time when it would catch up to me. She’s a really nasty person to work for, and we had a really bad couple of days where I had my fists clenched and almost walked out. I had lunch with a co-worker (he’s one of only four of us in the office) and he confirmed the fact that I might want to get out while I can. He was a masters student during the three years he worked at this place, but said if he didn’t have school to preoccupy him, he’d have quit after two months too. When you work that closely with your boss, you really have to get along. And bottom line was, I really wasn’t getting that much out of it, career wise.
So I quit. Walked right on out with no notice. Gave it the old ‘fuck off.’ First time I’ve ever done that and it’s not nearly as satisfying as I had imagined. And now I think I might bolt off to another National Park. Give the “fugitives from the world” theory a true test. I talked to my big sister tonight, and she had the same sound in her voice that everyone else had when I told them. Encouraging, happy that I seemed to have done the right thing, but with that “I hope you know what you’re doing” sound. That “wow, another job huh?” sound. That “How old are you now?” sound.
From a philosophical point of view, I like the path my life has taken. Sort of a no-plan, no-boredom, no-career approach. I have a certain amount of pride about being able to leave a job abruptly, and without much foresight. I have no patience for the daily grind, job security, paying dues, settling down, swallowing my pride, or taking orders. I’m also terrified of committing to one routine or lifestyle for more than about a year. So I quit things. A lot. In most aspects of my life, I’m pretty reserved, with a lot of boundaries. My professional life is the one area that I’ve been fairly reckless with. It gets tough, though, when I think about other friends who have carved out a good life for themselves, because they stuck with something and were dedicated. Honestly, I feel like a quitter and a coward. Or at least like someone in a self-destructive cycle.
So I think about my Emily Dickinson poem, and convince myself that I’m a better person for my flakiness. And that Glory is not an accomplishment, or a goal that you reach and settle down with. It’s not a good job, or a sensible career. It’s that bright, tragic thing, that for an instant, means dominion.
And now, I’m going to watch a movie about Japanese kids’ heads exploding.