True Pathway of Life by Feathered Tary (Flckr Creative Commons)
“Sometimes in life, from out of a myriad of prosaic decisions like what to eat and where to sleep and how to dress, a true crossroads is revealed. In these moments, when the fog of relative irrelevancy lifts and fate rolls out a demand for free will, there is only left or right”. ~ J. R. Ward
My hearing with Social Security is coming up on September 16, and I believe that I am beginning to panic. After all, that hearing is going to be a live-altering event. I mean, if SS determines that yes, I am in fact disabled, then I go on their roster of disabled people. It makes it official—government official.
The fear of being officially classified as a nonfunctioning member of society is causing me to look at the job listings with George Washington. This isn’t the first time I’ve done this, wandering aimlessly through job listings, thinking about what I could do.
But time for total truth: Would I be able to do it—it being return to the job force full-time, rejoin the lot of functioning, productive members of society?I honestly don’t know, and probably wouldn’t know until I tried. But the catch 22, the big iron in the works, so to speak, is that if I tried and found that I couldn’t do it, then what? Start the entire process again? Would that even be a possibility?
Hence, my panic. I remember my mother used to repeat a phrase when she was perplexed: “What to do? What to do?” Exactly. Précisément.
One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” was his response. “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.” ~ Lewis Carroll
A person could go mad in the face of such a conundrum: choose to act, and the possible failure has innumerable ramifications, but choose not to act, and the acquiescence may lead to the ultimate loss of self.
Search your soul . . . Let your conscience be your guide . . . In the end, you’ll do what’s right . . .
Really? Seriously? Being in this position make me realize acutely why some people consult psychics, have their palms read, have a Tarot card reading: Just tell me what’s going to come, and I’ll know what decision to make.
Sorry, but no. Back to that whole free will concept: Each individual possesses the ability to control his or her fate by choosing a course of action from among alternatives; whether or not free will is connected to moral responsibility depends upon the individual. That being said, the concept of free will implies being responsible for one’s actions as a result of being accorded the freedom to choose.. However, as most philosophers point out, the concept of free will is illusory in that whether or not the individual succeeds in carrying out actions decided upon depends on a number of factors beyond that individual’s control.
Or at least, that’s how I perceive it to be.
“Although every man believes that his decisions and resolutions involve the most multifarious factors, in reality they are mere oscillation between flight and longing.” ~ Herman Broch
The sticking point for me, then, is that if I do what I most want to do, that is, try to go back to work, possibly work on another degree, then I am subjecting my family to risk. That and the fact that I decide, but many factors out there loom beyond my control.
The positives of trying to go back to work:
- Improved self-worth from feeling as if I am doing something productive
- Increased family income, thereby helping to move us out of this never-ending miasma
- Having health insurance paid for by the company instead of self-paying
- Depending more on myself to get things done
- Possibly feeling better when my mind has other things on which to dwell
The negatives of trying to go back to work:
- Working again and finding out that my body cannot tolerate the activity
- Not being around full-time for Brett while he is beginning college, or being available to my family on a full-time basis
- The costs involved in going back to work: purchasing another vehicle, travel, wardrobe
- Having to go out on disability again and possibly not being able to get coverage
- Having to pay back debts that were forgiven when I went on disability
I did not put having time to write on either of these lists as my experience in the past few years has shown me that I will write whether or not I have the time depending on my need to say something. In all of the time that I have been out on disability, I still have not put together my book, which is what I said that I would do. That in itself is telling.
“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” ~ M. Scott Peck
Pathway bridge in Saharna Moldova, by Guttorm Flatabo
As some of you may realize, I write my way through, the logic being that as I put the words to page, my mind processes and sifts, allowing me to arrive at some kind of logical conclusion, and if not a conclusion, then at least a moment to pause. Having written about decisions countless times, I can say that at this moment, I am not more certain as to what I should do than when I began this post.
No great truth has come to me. At least, I don’t believe that it has. I heard a homily or proverb one time that went something like this: If you toss a coin in the air to help you make a decision, pause as the coin is in the air to reveal to yourself which outcome you were hoping for. Kind of like truth in a fortune cookie.
I know what I want to do, but so many things make me afraid to take this route, not the least of which is how much pain I am in from concentrating so hard on getting these words out.
Best five out of six . . . any words of wisdom would be appreciated.
“There are no prescriptive solutions, no grand designs for grand problems. Life’s solutions lie in the minute particulars involving more and more individual people daring to create their own life and art, daring to listen to the voice within their deepest, original nature, and deeper still, the voice within the earth.”
~ Stephen Nachmanovitch
More later. Peace.
Music by Dryer, “Seen Enough”
10 thoughts on ““All is flux; nothing stays still.” ~ Heraclitus”
I am also angry at the kind of money my bosses walked away with compared to the rest of us, we know that capitalism stands on the backs of many and rewards the few.
One of my ex-supervisor’s pension is 10x (!) what mine is and he has full bennies too, and other 401 pots of gold and real estate investments made with what I consider to be insider knowledge, etc., etc.
I have an exhorbitant healthcare payment too. Outrageous. And I can’t quit it or I’ll be uninsured (and I am chronically ill).
But I agree with you that the issue of what to do next in life beats all that for me. Even ill, I expect to make some contribution and have a real life. What else is there? My problem is that I need to find a way to make money that doesn’t harm my health. K, enough said on my part. sorry for winding it out.
Don’t apologize. You are preaching to the choir on this issue. My healthcare payment eats up so much of our monthly income, but I have no options, which is why I was so looking forward to real healthcare reform . . .
I want to work, but I don’t know if I can. That’s the crux right there. I know you understand that conundrum.
Wow, I could have written this. I am in the same position except that, having spent most of my working years in government (which doesn’t pay into SSI), I don’t have enough SS credits to qualify for social security disability. I just retired out early and that was it. But hearing you talk about whether or not you could physically handle a job again, what it feels like to give up the meaning that comes with a job, even a job you dislike, I can relate. I would like to enter another field, get another degree, travel. I would like to do a lot of things. But with CFS and Fibromyalgia, I have serious doubt that I could do them. Just having returning from vacation this weekend I am so tired I am overwhelmed. How could I have gone back to work yesterday as my husband does so easily? I have been “home,” unemployed, for 5 years next month. I feel like a slug despite spending my days reading (everything) and in my studio. My kids are grown and one is living abroad. The isolation is killer. I see people at Starbucks on their way to work and I envy them yet I don’t think I could be confined again!
I never realized that government jobs don’t pay into SSI. That doesn’t make sense. I thought that it was the law for all employers to pay in. How horrible.
I’m so glad that someone else knows exactly what I am talking about, that you, too, think about work, education, travel. It will be three years this October, and I honestly don’t know if I can keep doing this. I’ve been working full-time since I was 17.
I guess it’s not all gv’t employees. I just read this because I was curious: “The majority of those who do not pay in are state and local government employees covered by their own retirement systems. About 30% of state and local government workers are not covered at present.” I was in for 23 years and never paid any SS with federal or city gov’t.
Just so you know, only those at the top get big pensions out of local gov’t. The rest of us will collect approximately what we would have if we had been in social security via our private pensions. I also pay my own health insurance and I have no SS disability available. I would have had to file with my employer’s SSI when I worked for City Hall. And you know what they say…”You can’t fight City Hall.” And we all knew that. Filing SSI would send you straight to a psychiatrist to disprove your disability. I saw it happen over and over.
On a different note. I don’t know how long I can stay unemployed (and underutilized) either.
I guess that I am fortunate because I had long-term disability coverage under my employer (George Washington U.), which I have been on since I went out. The insurer does all of the filing with Social Security, all of the forms, contacts the doctors, etc. What I am doing now is going before some kind of magistrate who will ask me a bunch of questions about my life. If I’m denied, my insurer files again. At this point, I don’t care who gives me the money as long as I’m getting some.
The part that infuriates me (well, several parts) is that people without representation who try to file for disability with SS almost always get shafted. I’ve been paying into SS since I was 15. I’ve worked full-time since I was 17. They have my money. It’s not an entitlement. I’m tired of all of the hoo haa from right-wing pols who claim that SS contributes to the deficit because that’s bullshit. Skye’s article on social security was very informative.
The bigger issue for me is trying to figure out what to do with my life . . .
Note: prior to 1983, federal employees didn’t pay into or receive SS either, including Congress and the President.
Don’t get me started on Congress and President entitlement, although I think that the POTUS is the most underpaid position in the world. That aside, Congress gets great retirement, full medical for themselves and their families, and they have their own bank. None of them ever have to decide between groceries and making an exhorbitant healthcare payment each month. Sick of it.
I’m kicking myself right now for having allowed so much time to pass since I stopped by to drink from the fount of insight that your blog is ti me. I’ve been in one of those funks lately, where avoiding deep thoughts and feelings seemed the way to go. An avoidance mechanism born out of the need for mental self-preservation?
The fact that your current conundrum is so familiar to me makes the fact that I have no helpful advise to give all the more painful for me. I guess that I could be thankful that my own path onto the disability roles was one that I had very little to do with, since I was so “out of it” at the time that I basically just went where I was told and signed what I was told to sign.
I do know that there have been many times, in the years since I was approved, where bearing the label of “unemployable” has been a humiliating experience that has caused me to burn with resentment. But it’s hard to raise a stink when, in my heart, I know that taking a job is just as likely to do harm to my employer’s business as it is to provide me with the benefits of living a productive life.
Anyway, I hope it works out well for you, regardless of the path you choose to follow. And I hope that you’ll continue to publish the great stuff I’ve come to expect from your blog. The images, the quotes, the music, and most importantly, your writing, stand among the true treasures of the blogosphere. 😀
Wow. Thanks. It’s always so nice to find people who really like my blog and all of its components. I cannot tell you how much it means.
As to the choice that I am facing, I have gone through it so many times that I really don’t know what to do. Since my kind of work is mosty desk-related, I don’t think that I would be harmful to an employer, but I truly understand how that is a consideration. I’m sure that I’ll post something about my decision when/if I make it.
By the way, I understand the avoidance mechanism. I do that too. Thanks again.