Elster's World

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Summer (??) Malaise

As we get closer to summer’s dog days, I find myself stuck in a rut. I am unable (or unwilling) to do anything at work - I sort of just exist there all day long and wait until an acceptable hour to pick up my bag and leave. Once home, dinner and inertia remain the highlights of the nighttime hours.

Why this state of being? Well, it would be easy to blame it on the sapping summer heat, but I spend the majority of my time in super cooled air. It would be easy to blame the Java Island earthquake/tsunami that killed over 500 people, the endless conflicts n Iraq and Afghanistan or any of a dozen other world issues that pockmark the newspapers and .coms. But the truth is, while I care about these issues and want the world to be a better place for all to live in, these events simply do not have the power to affect my mood to that degree.

The conflict in the Middle East is certainly a big factor for my malaise. I think every Jewish person, regardless of where on the political spectrum you may fall (and obviously excluding fringe psychopaths who desire the destruction of the Jewish State) feel a sense of sadness and helplessness from the hundreds of Hezbollah rockets striking Northern cities and towns like Haifa, Afula, Sefat and Tiberias. We cannot but feel a tension in our guts as we anxiously read stories of soldier incursions into southern Lebanon to dismantle Hezbollah terrorist outposts.

Yes, the situation in Israel has certainly affected me on a level that I have not felt in a while. There is a certain pride in the Israeli government’s response. Too often they sat on their hands in the name of “peace” as busses blew and markets or hotels were reduced to shrapneled rubble (and yes, I know that shrapneled is not a real word). For the last week, Israel has responded with the heavy hand. Perhaps it has learned that with its Islamic neighbors, the soft sell simply doesn’t work. They are telling the world that cross border incursions to kill and kidnap Israelis will not be tolerated. They are telling the world that firing rockets at civilian populated areas will be met by enough force to discourage such activity from continuing. They are telling the world that while you pussyfoot around with known terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, we, Israel, will stand up defiantly to them, whether on its own or with the backing of the world. Yet along with this pride comes the tension, sadness and fear.

So in part, my lack of energy can be traced back to this conflict. But only partially so. The truth is, I’m a little upset with my own lack of aggression in trying to better my work situation. Sure, I interview when a good opportunity comes along, but the fact remains that I have been working as an attorney for seven years knowing that this is not how I want to be spending my time and energy – and, most importantly, my life. Yet, here I am, seven years later, still doing the same thing, making the same complaints and generally not moving in a direction that is at all beneficial to improving that situation. That’s the rut. That’s the spiral. It’s circular. I’m unhappy because I dislike what I do, I can’t figure out how to fix it, I’m too unhappy to have energy to fix it, so I’m unhappy.

Generally I get three responses to my feelings.

1.-Well, you need to earn a living for your family to just suck it up.
2.-Suggestionless sympathy.
3. – Stop whining. Most people hate their jobs, so no one cares that you do.

All three of these responses are valid (though obviously not helpful). What can I say. I realize my predicament, I’m not blind to it. I just fail to see how I am supposed to fix it. How can I suddenly leave my well paying career for something I like better, while still making enough to pay for all the things an orthodox Jewish homeowner with tuition-aged children needs to be paying for?

I hope that one day (very soon) I’ll figure it out. Because this state of melancholy is certainly not where I want to be.