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Dick’s riches

July 11, 2012

For the rich budgeting must be easy.

For the sake of clarity I define as rich anyone who earns a pound a year more than me. I recognise that, reckoned globally, I am in the richest tiny minority, with a roof, a job, clean water, etc, but this is not how we define ourselves. We measure ourselves against others, and seek cause for complaint.

I have never been motivated by money.  I would sooner take a badly paid job working with people I liked than a well paid job stuck in a cold and silent office where the thought of hanging myself increased in attractiveness in correlation with salary rises. But the notion cannot be avoided that how much you are paid is in proportion to how much you are valued, and I am aware that if I stay another four or five years in this job I might eventually reach the national average salary.  The average as it is now, anyway; five years down the line it will have risen again, and I will be like a cat chasing a torch-beam, never realising that the game is unwinnable.

I have managed to get three posts into this blog without having said a single negative word about my job. Let’s see how long we can continue. The job is untaxing, is consistent and predictable, with nothing to surprise or disturb. It could be said that a chimp could do my job just as well, and though I would have to look the other way while this is said I would not contradict it. Thirteen years out of university, a modicum of intelligence and a preternatural capacity for adapting to change, and still I am stuck at the most modest of rungs. From here the top of the ladder is shrouded in mist. There may even be vultures circling up there – I don’t have my glasses with me – that’s how distant, strange and unsettling it seems. The metaphor breaks down when you consider how many other people are in the job market. Do we each have a separate ladder? Otherwise it would get quite crowded. And if so, then how can we compete? We are at leisure to climb however far we choose and so, provided you are fit enough, it presents no trouble at all. But what’s at the top? Is it free-standing, or is there some kind of platform up there? And if we’re all busy climbing ladders then how does any productive work ever get done?

The problem is then that, able to make an adequate stab at anything I turn my hand to, I am paralysed by choice, and hindered by an inability to make out just what destination I would like to head for. Am I really the sort who lacks ambition? No – worse than that I lack imagination. If I knew what I wanted to achieve then you can be sure I would set my face towards it, would pursue it whatever the objections from logic and convention, the voices that say this is not worth chasing, to which I would reply it is the only thing worth chasing. Dedication, commitment without object. You lie awake nights aware something big is missing but not able to make out what it is, the edges are too blurred, but knowing it is huge and important, that if only you could get close enough you would see its skin and its texture and would at last be in a position to describe it.

Not that I would object to being rich. Like so much in life the desire is a means of saying, please make me matter. 


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