Repetition and regularity provides a semblance of orderliness; somehow, patterns in life remain relevant to sanity and stability, and it is the disordered patchwork which creates havoc for want of consistency. There are those who seek regularity, and are criticized for embracing boredom; then, the one who constantly lives on the edge, where being fired and not knowing the future of tomorrow is handled with a mere shrug and an attitude of libertine disregard.
Most of us live in the middle of extremes; that is why, in reading Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, no extent of profundity is discovered; the median between two extremes is what most of us naturally seek, anyway. And we appropriate a sense of comfort and security by presuming that others are somewhat like us; to that extent, Kant is probably right in his philosophical belief that we impose structure and order into a universe which is essentially chaotic, in an effort to maintain an internal phenomenology of coherence and comprehension.
Every now and again, however, interrupting forces disrupt the quietude of life’s fortune, and misgivings begin to define those territories we thought had already been conquered, where the savages had been beaten down and the goblins had all been captured. How we manage crisis; what manner of internal fortitude becomes tested; and what mettle of essence to which we may succumb; these are all questions which we would rather avoid.
It is the contending dialectical forces that are represented by the “Peter Principle” as opposed to the “Dilbert Principle“, by which most of us must endure; where, the former is quickly dampened by cynicism of actual experience, and the latter is always confirmed daily by encounters with a surrealism called “life”. Life is, indeed, a patchwork of sorts; of different people, coming from a variety of experiences — and yet boringly similar and predictable. Eccentricities have already been tested and stamped out, contained, restrained and trained into oblivion through the system called, “the public schools” — where uniqueness of thought is curtailed via the pecking order of peer pressure and standardized testing.
Then, of course, there is the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker — caught in a bureaucracy in which competency and creativity are rarely acknowledged as the avenue for advancement in an administratively hostile universe. When the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker suddenly finds himself or herself facing the dilemma of a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from continuing in a chosen career because it prevents him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties — then, it is time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.
For, in the end, life’s patchwork must by necessity and self-definition reflect the complexity of the world around us; yes, we seek out the “middle ground” — that boring stability of repetitive humdrum of life — while recognizing that the extremes are there for a reason; and while it may not be for us, it exists and always presents a threat. The key is to avoid it, or even depart from it; as escapism allows only for momentary gratification, and the pattern of life’s patchwork must be sought in the future discourse of our collective sighs.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire