In my workspace, I am one of a number of people on temporary contracts that are coming to an end. We were told that we would have to reapply for these jobs formally with a month of a grace period before the roles would be advertised elsewhere. The reaction to this was poor. Questions popped up such as: “why do I have to reapply, can’t my I just have renewed or changed contract?” and “so I have to fight for my job?” and “if there’s no chance of me losing my job, why do I have to reapply?” and what not.
The meeting which took place two weeks ago didn’t have the same affect on me as it did everyone else. I’m not taking a high horse stance but I think that stoicism has a large part to play. My reaction to it was: this job is a stable job; the work is manageable; it’s close to home; I can do this for another year at least. So what’s a bit of paperwork and an interview with someone I’ve worked with for two years who I know well? An hour or two of my life to secure employment in a turbulent time that has a good income and pension scheme doesn’t seem to be a pain at all. The HR jargon given to us about why we needed to reapply and that the contracts wouldn’t be automatically extended washed over me. It was a whole lot of words to say very little and what was said was: this is how it is, get on with it, sorry not sorry.
“Are you not upset by this?” – X
“No, why? Are you?” – Z
“We have to fight for our jobs, I don’t get it.” – X
“Meh, I’ve seen Lord of the Flies, I’ve got this.” – Z
Okay, so maybe the sarcasm wasn’t entirely helpful but it was laughable. What do people think a fight is these days? A bit of paperwork and an interview? I understand that people have their own anxieties, I’m not knocking that, but really? A HR formality is a disprefferred incident not some grand injustice where someone is being dragged from their home in the dead of night to a gulag for an undetermined crime. In the stoic sense, sure, even that is a disprefferred in different.
This is the same odd hyperbolic logic that has caused thousands to flock to the local Primark today as they reopen across the UK. They must have a new pair of cuddly socks and some flip-flops so queued for hours for the privilege. Are we that privileged? Have we all become so accustomed to a life style of such ease and comfort that we go mad for leggings and panic at the thought of some minor administrative hoops.
“Nothing happens to any creature beyond its own natural endurance. Another has the same experience as you: either through failure to recognize what has happened to him, or in a display of courage, he remains calm and untroubled. Strange, then, that ignorance and pretension should be stronger than wisdom.” – Meditations 5.18
Getting on with it because we can, is something we should do. Is that British stiff upper lipped Blitz spirit or common stoic sense? For it to be truly British I think we need to be doing this with a cup of tea, at least. Yet I suppose that doesn’t really apply since the incidents I’m talking about all took place in the UK and include British people.
I’m not above complaining about things that have little to no affect on me in reality. Every night I seem to find myself grumbling at the amount of washing up to be done but with cooking comes washing up as a given. So in that reality, what’s the problem? It’s a logical consequence that shouldn’t bother me. My own ignorance can’t be ignored yet I take the victories of my rational mind where I can. The truth is plain: I need to get on with it.
“All that happens is an event either within your natural ability to bear it, or not. So if it an event within that ability, do not complain, but bear it as you were born to. If outside that ability, do not complain either: it will take you away before you have the chance for complaint. Remember, though, that you are by nature born to bear all that your own judgement can decide bearable, or tolerate in action, if you represent it to yourself as a benefit or duty.” – Meditations 10.3
What’s some paperwork? What’s some washing up? What’s some hardship, meaningless or meaningful? Nothing but swirling mist that will dissipate by our own action or on it’s own. What’s human life but swirling mist? What is the solar system but swirling mist?
I’m digressing but the point being: get on with it, no need for complaint, it’ll be fine. I can bear this life, you can bear this life, we can bear this life and it’s dispreferred indifferent pieces. When the whole jigsaw comes together, we see it’s beauty if we can allow ourselves.