My parents taught me a different lesson. Lying on the street, shaking in deep shock, dying for no reason at all, they showed me that the world only makes sense when you force it to. — Batman, to Superman, during their final battle in The Dark Knight Returns
Our children would have been beautiful. Those were the dying words of Ja’dzia Dax on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time, when Gul Dukat burst in, possessed by an evil spirit, and zapped her into the next world with a bolt of energy. After hours of surgery by Dr. Bashir, he was able to save the Dax symbiot but not Ja’dzia. Her husband of barely a year, Worf, entered the operating room. Ja’dzia looked up at him, and with her dying breath, said, “Our children would have been beautiful.” That’s just the best I can come up with to describe how I’m feeling right now.
A few weeks ago, you read about how L called me out of the blue and asked me to move to Camrose and become her roommate. I readily accepted, and spoke to my bosses the next day about the possibility of transferring down to Camrose. They called the Camrose Extra Foods, and there was an opening for a grocery clerk (politically correct term for stock boy). My resume was faxed down, and I waited to see if the transfer would be approved. And waited. And waited. After a week, I finally spoke to my bosses to see what was going on. It seems that Camrose wanted someone to start immediately, and I said I wouldn’t be able to start until January. That said, my application was pushed aside and someone local was hired. But, we could try again in January in case something opened up. I thanked my bosses for their help, and then did the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do: e-mail L and tell her it wasn’t going to happen.
There were so many things I could have done differently. I should have said I could start right away. I’m sure Darmok would’ve put up with me for a week or two. I could still call in January, but it’s doubtful that something will have opened up in the next two weeks. What would the captains of Star Trek do in this situation? I’ve learned that a good captain doesn’t second guess his/her decisions. Not in front of the troops, at least. A good captain doesn’t go back on his/her decisions. They stand by them, even when they are wrong.
But still, in the back of my mind, I had an inkling that it wouldn’t have happened. I wanted it too badly. Whenever I work very hard to achieve something, I don’t get it. All the way from Slingshot, my most coveted MASK toy, to when I ran for VP External at University. They were all things I wanted badly. They were all things I worked my ass off to get. They were all things that went to someone else. This is why I’m not a goal-oriented person anymore. No matter how hard I work to achieve my goal, some how, some way, I choke at the finish line. What does that one poster say? “Winners never quit, quitters never win, but those who never win and never quit are morons.” I have to learn to quit, or I’ll become one of those morons.
But it’s hard to quit. From childhood to the grown-up years, we are taught that our goals can be achieved through hard work and determination. But what if hard work and determination aren’t enough? The stories we were told as children never took into account the trust-fund rich brats who are born rich, given a cushy job by their parents and never have to work a day in their life. There are too many intangibles; too many variables. Hard work and determination aren’t enough in the modern world. Hard work had given way to sucking up, and determination has been phased out and replaced with networking.
Yes, I’m aware I sound quite pessimistic here. I once read that it’s only pessimists that believe in things like fate, luck, and higher powers with plans, so you’ll understand if I invoke the name of God. It’s times like this that I get religious. It’s times like this that I find comfort in the fact that there’s someone up there in charge. Maybe He/She does have a plan. If so, then that implies that there was some reason why these things were taken from me. I hope there’s something planned for me. There’s got to be some reason why I’m beating my head against a wall. As a recent TV show said, “It’s nice to know that there’s a plan for me, but I’d like to be let in on it.”
But how do we get let in on it? I recently read Batman: Year One, and there’s this great scene near the end of the first issue. Bruce Wayne’s returned from his very first night of crimefighting, but it didn’t go so well. He’s still missing one crucial element to his crimefighter arsenal: how does he make the enemy fear him? He’s sitting in his study, slowly bleeding to death. Next to him is a bell. He knows that if he rings the bell, Alfred will come and tend his wounds. But Bruce doesn’t. He knows that if he doesn’t figure out this last crucial step to fulfil his promise, he may as well die. Now, very close to his deathbed, he starts seeking help. He begins pleading with his father, tell me, how do I do it? How do I make them afraid? Then, a bat crashes through the window. The bat lands on a marble bust of Bruce’s father, and glares at Bruce. Bruce smiles, rings the bell, and murmurs aloud, “Thank you father. I will become a bat….”
I feel very much like Bruce right now, as he sat there bleeding to death. I know that I have a wonderful support structure. I know that I can e-mail my problems to half-a-dozen friends, and they will send me kind words of support. I know I can head upstairs, tell this to my parents, and they will give me a hug and tell me everything will be better. But why? If I don’t figure out what’s going wrong with my life, we’ll be back in this position months from now. I may as well give up. I sit here, pleading with God, the Fates, whatever’s in charge, wanting to know what’s going on; what’s planned. How do I do it? How do I stop beating my head against the wall and find the door? But as much as I plead, as much as I ask, as much as I demand, as much as I scream to the heavens, no bat is crashing through the window. As I sit here bleeding, with the bell in easy reach, a startling realization comes to me. God’s not sending a sign. The Fates aren’t talking. My path is clear. I’m on my own to figure this out. And so, I ring the bell. I can’t figure it out if I’m dead.
Like the Iron Giant, I am what I chose to be. The decisions we make shape who we are. Which fork in the road we take determines our path in life. But like Forrest Gump, I’m willing to concede that something else might be in charge. As Forrest said, some say we choose what happens, others say we’re just a feather floating in the wind, but he thinks it’s a little of both. I’m inclined to agree. From personal experience, I know that the Fates can introduce you to the girl of your dreams, but it’s ultimately your own choice as to whether you introduce yourself or not. Yes, we are masters of our destiny, but sometimes fate may gently nudge us in another direction. And who knows? When you beat your head against a wall long enough, you just may break a hole in that wall.
I will continue applying for jobs that I’m qualified for. I will continue making my plans as to what I’d like to do next. And if God truly does have a plan for me, it’ll become visible in time. I am not a moron because I won’t give up. I can’t give up. Something else has to give eventually. I’ll change strategies. I’ll adopt new tactics. And if there’s more to success than hard work and determination, then I’ll add them to my arsenal.
Yes, my children would have been beautiful. But there are still so many ways to bring them into this world. They will be beautiful.