The amazing story of two 40-something women on the path to matrimonial bliss

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Age of Precariousness

I was recently chatting with a friend who sighed a yearning sigh for what he called "security and stability"-- it wasn't until an hour or so later that I realized I could no longer really wrap my head around what that actually means.  It seemed mythological, an almost unreasonable Utopian pining. Who has the luxury of security and stability these days?

I've stopped really paying attention to those who appear to have it all--and by have it all, I don't mean mansions and yachts, I mean stable full time work, a reasonable benefits package, and enough to tend to the basics in life. I just don't move in those sorts of circles.  I know you are out there and, well, good for you, but I know many more individuals who are striving, scraping, and bowing under the weight and stress of precariousness.

It is not lack of education--in my little work world, for example: six people have a combined minimum of 10 degrees--this includes three master's degrees.  We are super well-educated, super-competent and work long, lumpy hours.  This is not enough to guarantee dental care or even a steady paycheck. We struggle to pay off student loans with low-paying social service sector jobs and probably donate as much time and talent as we'll ever be compensated for.

We never know if the computers will be working, the funding will come through or whether we'll even have a job to claim tomorrow.  That is an exhausting form of precariousness. And, still, we piece it together--multiple jobs, contract work, and by sharing whatever we have with friends, family and community. When Teri and I aren't feeding kids or making sure they have shoes, toilet paper and toothpaste, we scrape together what we can to donate to various charities and causes that are hanging off those precipices of precariousness too. Don't ask me why, it just never dawns on us that this is not the way to go about things.

Is this the way things are going to be for the near and distant future?  Is this simply the "age" in which we live? I know this is not the way things are for everyone, but it is the way things are for many. I also know it depends on where you live, what you do, and various uncontrollable factors like skin color, gender and age. But  knowing all this does not really justify the age of precariousness. The other day, Teri said that maybe the path to peace was to simply accept that this is the reality, plain and simple.  I couldn't figure out, however, how that would make things feel any less tenuous and temporary?  I imagine she was imagining it would be less exhausting without the struggle for something else, but that doesn't account for the effort to simply maintain...

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