Just when I suspect “Agincourt” has hit the wall, when the threads that have been in play for a long time seem to fray, a stray cosmic ray strikes home, a new path opens before me, an invitation. Who knows from whence such stimulation comes? I’ve ceased wondering — at least that sort of wondering; there’s plenty of wonder, a seemingly unending supply, still in me. And when that is gone, there will be no easy answer.
The idea of Mesopotamia, a land framed by rivers, opens several interesting trains of thought. The origin of the name itself. The likely ethnic and/or racial makeup of the neighborhood. [Will resolving that question make me a racist? And if I have to ask, am I one already?] And what sort of society will those folks evolve in their own best interests? My own lower Middle Class origins may taint any story emerging here that defines the Mesopotamian experience, especially as it differs from Agincourt’s other neighborhoods. It poses a broad question: “What constitutes the Good Life?” and, by extension, what are its metrics?
The Good Life
Two friends recently offered these takes on work-related satisfaction, presumably an aspect of the Good Life. I quote them here, unedited, without permission but with anonymity:
#1) You set in your mind that arbitrary goal [completing fifty years of teaching], you can intentionally eliminate it. (Not a recommendation, just an empirically gained observation). Somethings in life you think are good for you, may only be good for others, and actually harming (or excitedly, hindering) you. Role play how you would feel the after you visualize quitting. If a severe sense of relief and even gleeful joy wash over you, it is the right thing for you. Time is a fixed commodity, and awards for suffering the longest, need to be weighed against doing what you want, trying what you’ve wanted, and going for it. 2008 laid off, scared as shit, seven kids, no savings, no prospects…… but the work place was such a toxic environment, I found myself whistling and smiling like I won the lottery. Hard next 4.5 years, but everything worked out WAY FOR THE BEST. Chin up. Feels good to make a life changing decision that frees your soul. Also…you definitely belong, not an interloper but a hub, an inspiration, and a memorable instructor. Well done, good and faithful servant. And now, to quote our esteemed First Lady: Be Best. Omg
#2) “Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.” — the words of Studs Terkel, courtesy of someone I know
My favorite search engine just presented hundreds of web references related to this simple philosophical question: What’s the Good Life? For some reason, I leapt to Abraham Lincoln’s definition of democracy—Mesopotamia being, arguably, the most democratic place in Agincourt and Fennimore County:
“As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.” — Abraham Lincoln
Armed with these as a frame of reference, defining the core values of Mesopotamia won’t be much easier, but it will be more rewarding.