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  • M.A. Busby

Inside the Hole

In contrast to yesterday’s eye toward the skies I’m back in my hole, its pissing rain and I’m wearing a garbage bag to stay dry. To be quite honest I find myself quite fulfilled by the whole experience, there being much of value to the task. Why? Well, this is my house, my hole and at my hand, I can make it better regardless of the muck, the weather or the fact the pipe blew on my birthday. “Getting ‘er done” means the safe and supported place we keep for our kids to grow up in shall continue to be just that. It’s a humble moment too as far as I can connect the value behind the privilege of having fresh water delivered right into the house. In Indonesia, a truly lovely place, I came across situations where children had died because these kinds of privileges are anything but universal.

I’m reminded too of my own (limited!) universality. I enjoy hard work when values are attached, no matter whether physical, cerebral, creative, etc. it’s the engagement that matters. This week I was reminded that it'd been one whole year since I became out of work, not a paycheque nor a collegial greeting to be found since. It feels like I fell off of a ladder on to concrete. Sometimes I think I’m still falling. I’m quite sure now it’s not job loss per se that drives a person insane it’s the loneliness, disconnection akin to living in a house that nobody visits.

I was thinking a bit about this situation down the hole earlier. For all the job submissions I’ve put in no one it seems, is willing to extend even a most basic courtesy like acknowledging the safe receipt of my application. I reserve time to prepare each tender. Even a simple auto response takes a matter of seconds to set up. It’s dead easy; pre-teens do it. It’s not a perfect model of correspondence of course, but at least the acknowledgment helps one retains a sense of visibility - and personhood. This lack of connection is perhaps typical of a much deeper apathy that’s crept into society. Not only is the availability of work lessening but there is less and less quality work available to go around too. People like me don’t seem to get a look in. It doesn’t seem to matter I’m well-educated, successful in my previous work endeavors and my parenting roles, that I have written two books, stood in front of the establishment’s elite to speak up for a charity I cared for, or that I have volunteered in the service of others, both home and abroad. Nor does it seem to matter that I pay the highest compliment to society around me through my conformity to its rules and expectations. I get a feeling I only count as a number on an algorithmic scorecard, itself an indication humans are losing confidence in their ability to relate meaningfully to other humans.

A friend of mine Paul, a former chef and a guy I’m quite fond of told me something important about tofu once. He said tofu itself is quite tasteless; rather it takes on flavours of other foods around it. As a vegetarian, this was a huge ah-ha moment for me. At times I wonder if the same might be said of people. As democracy and democratic institutions become weakened by reality-twisting social media and the rise of rancorous, megalomanic strongmen marinated in their grandiosity; we suffer a paradoxical yearning for authenticity while at the same time disengaging from others.

In Canadian culture, the most boring thing I come across is its weird vassalage to business cultism and managerial ideologies. It feels as dominant as religion must have been a century and a half ago. Sometimes I ask people why they work their statutory holidays when their job doesn’t require it of them as it does for shop workers or hospitals. I usually get a version of the “time is money” type answer, but I suspect some people don’t know what to do with so much free time. Occasionally I get the feeling I'm unpatriotic just by asking.

If all this came from digging one, muddy hole, then I should try it again. Before I do though, I want to make sure I send out a massive thank you to Art and Mike, old skool lovely people from Art’s Plumbers for their support and generosity in helping me overcome my recent emergency, knowing or not I haven’t an income in twelve months.

Oh, and bollocks to those who do know but couldn’t give a shit.

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