Is most of life a frown, with a few smiles which make it all worthwhile? Or is it perceived as its opposite – of predominantly smiles, with some frowns interspersed throughout? Is that like the test-question for psychological health, of whether the glass is seen as half empty, or half filled? Does the answer to the question depend upon the mood of the moment, the ethereal pattern of the day, or the fabric of that which is woven into our DNA by a matrix of unassailable conventions? There is, to be sure, a weight of paradigms and an interwoven context which cumulatively aggregates into a “personality” of who one is; but can a Rorschach test unravel the depths of a psyche, or does it determine the course of one’s future actions because of the embedded nature of an anguished soul?
One wonders, ultimately, whether language is the conduit of the perception we possess, and that is why the Hindu guru or the Zen monk admonishes to seek silence, and to quell the obstacle of words and voices. For, does an animal engage in unspeakable atrocities? Of self-harm or self-immolation, or worse, of mass executions? Is it not because of the conveyance of language, in communicating thoughts created and linguistic strings of previously-unimagined evils, that we reach the pinnacle of banality (to borrow a phrase from the Philosopher, Hannah Arendt)? Would a man of such mediocrity as Eichmann have concocted the horrors of mass extermination, but for felicities directed by a conspiracy of greater evils?
Life as a frown; it is to approach the world with a certain perspective. Life as a smile; it is to reproach the universe for being too downtrodden. Is there a difference, or merely a play upon words where the distinction is lost once we wipe away the blur from our morning eyes and begin to engage in the work of the day?
Leisure is needed for the miscreant to employ the folly of a wasted day. Time was that we all had to survive by physical toil, and worry involved how to eat in order to survive. That is what consumes all of the rest of the Animal Kingdom; to survive, one must eat; to eat, one must toil; and the rest and residue leaves one too exhausted to consider, but for the technology of leisure where thoughts may invade and pervade, in order to create malevolent constructs of linguistic artifices.
For the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the “approach of life” is an easy matter to conceive of: the medical condition itself has made the determination for you. Life becomes a frown, with nary a smile to intercede, when the work of each day is beset with anguish, pain and sorrow.
Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, actually has a constructive goal and purpose: To alter the course of a future yet undetermined, and make life as a basket of smiles, to the extent possible in this universe of frowns.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire