Is not much of opera a booming voice, a lingering chord and the grand mayhem of combining movement with long, loud and hanging sounds emitted from men and women who are born with a talent rarely heard? So, can there be a silent opera? An opera where movement and gestures are seen, but when the performers open their mouths, only silence come out? If one-half of opera is the singing and the uniqueness of voices, while the other half is comprised of extravagant costumes and sets that tell the narration of the story through dramatic display, can life be bifurcated any more than an opera?
And, yet, isn’t that what much of life is – of a silent opera, where we notice, recognize and even sometimes acknowledge the movements of another person, but rarely listen or hear anything about that person? How well do you know the person sitting next to you, or your next door neighbor whom you have seen for over a decade?
We ask not questions that might query and squeeze out narratives otherwise unknown and ignored, and so long as we attend life’s silent opera, we only glean half of the story, if that. And to others, likewise, we are life’s silent opera. They mind their own business, and we ours; and that is what we call “privacy” and the heart of individualism, as opposed to “collectivism” or, in more picturesque settings, of a “community” – something which we fool ourselves into believing exists, anyway, but spending countless hours of valuable time searching the Internet and engaging in make-believe that Facebook is a “community”.
Then, of course, life’s silent opera often includes a medical condition, or some pain or trauma experienced or currently undergoing, but of which no one else is aware. The movements are still there, and even the extravagant settings. Perhaps a person walks with a limp, or as he or she sits down, an involuntary grimace shadows the expression; yet, no complaint is made, no sound is emitted, and so we are satisfied with half of the storyline.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal worker’s job, life’s silent opera begins.
It is time to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, because – while no one acknowledges the “voices” and “sounds” of the medical condition, the “movements” are there, of the Agency beginning to realize less-than-acceptable performance; of using too much SL or extending one’s FMLA and remaining on LWOP; and while no one may say anything, the rumblings of Agency harassment and impending termination may be just around the corner.
Filing for Federal Disability Retirement is the next logical step in this extravagant setting of life’s silent opera, where even the main actors are no longer interested in whether the audience hears your voice or not.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire