Charlie's Blog


SOC 94

And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good.

I have fallen off my blogging pretty hard. I have a lot of things going on in the real world, and I had planned on getting the RTOVS done over the weekend when I felt a nasty bug coming on. I don't know if it was a cold or the flu, but I felt the exhaustion coming on along with a scratchy throat. So, I took some extra doses of elderberry and got a lot of sleep. The good news is that my immune system appears to have done its job and kicked that bug's ass. The downside is that nothing got written for the C-Blog. We can't have it all, folks.

While putting some effort into the RTOVS, I came across this quotation from Saint Alphonsus Liguori:
A hidden and obscure life affords great security to those who sincerely desire to love God. Our Divine Master Himself deigned to teach us this by His own example, for He spent thirty years in the obscurity of Nazareth and the workshop of a humble carpenter. In imitation of their Divine Model, many saints withdrew into the desert and lived in remote caves to escape the esteem of men. The desire to put ourselves forward and merit the plaudits of men, to be regarded as very successful in our undertakings, is, according to St. Vincent de Paul, an evil that causes us to forget our God; it vitiates our holiest actions and more than anything else impedes our progress in the spiritual life. To be pleasing and acceptable in the sight of God, we must therefore banish from our hearts the desire to appear before men to win their approval and applause and especially the desire to rule over others.
I love this wisdom. It really flies in the face of what people seek after today. Everybody wants to be a rock star. They want to be rich and famous. They want to be somebodies in whatever field they choose. Somewhere along the way, I rejected this rock star mentality. I think this happened in two stages. The first stage was in my late twenties after having a disastrous short career in management. I was competent at the job, but I have never hated a job more in my life. I quit that job for the sake of sanity and health and spent some time rethinking my life.

The conclusion that I came to in my life was that I was essentially a blue collar guy. I am not a manager. I am not a salesman. I am not a politician or an entertainer or a game show host or whatever. People that meet me know that I am a smart guy and think I have wasted my life working a humdrum job. But that is a prejudice against blue collar workers with the assumption that they must be stupid and have massive character defects like alcoholism and drug addiction. Undoubtedly, this is true of many of them, but it shouldn't be this way. The fact is that being smart and possessing good character will take you far in any job.

The blue collar route is a path of humility. I have considered a lot of different careers. When I was a Protestant, I wanted to become a Presbyterian minister. God had other plans for me. I considered going back to school to get an accounting degree and a law degree and become a highly paid tax attorney. This fit with my libertarian worldview at the time. But as I saw tuition ballooning under the student loan bubble, I knew my future was likely to be a highly educated but unemployed and indebted loser. Fields requiring degrees today are very competitive because we have a glut of college grads. The ones who do get a job in their chosen field can expect to see a third of their income going to service their student loan debts.

I contemplated a career in finance until I came to the conclusion that I would never personally use the products and services I would be expected to sell to clients. I also contemplated a career in IT and computer programming. But as a friend of mine who went that route pointed out to me, you will spend your days working and your nights studying for the rest of your life as you try to remain current in that constantly changing field. Your IT job can also be outsourced or get filled by many of the immigrants from India who come here willing to do your job for half the pay.

When I looked at blue collar fields like diesel mechanics, jet mechanics, and the trades, I saw men who were making good pay without a mountain of student loan debt to repay. Plus, there was little competition but an actual shortage. I thought that shortage would be filled as people got the news, but this was over a decade ago. The skills gap in blue collar jobs and the trades remains. Why is this? The answer is simple--PRIDE. People don't want to work dirty jobs.

I refer back to the quotation from Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Jesus chose to be a carpenter and to live and work in obscurity. In my way, I made the same choice. My faith was gone by that time, but I realized I was never going to be president. I took whatever pride I had and tossed it in the garbage can. I was a blue collar guy. My mistake was in aspiring to be anything beyond that.

The second part of my path of humility came when I became Catholic. Having my faith return to me in an improved form changed what I valued in life. The purpose of life is to become a saint. It's a lot easier to become a saint if you are blue collar. You aren't seeking after wealth and status. You live a simple life already. In hindsight, I see that God had put me on this path for my own good. Now, I am grateful for it.

The weird thing about my life is this cerebral thing I have going on. Clearly, I am not your typical sort of person who works his job or specialty and spends the rest of his time watching football games. I am only this way because I spent my time reading books instead of watching bad TV. This reading habit is what has given me an ability to write. And the ability to write is not a lucrative profession unless you are really bad at it like Stephen King. I just see the writing thing as a talent like singing or playing the fiddle. One of the most heavenly voices I have ever heard belonged to a co-worker. She sang in church. She never went on American Idol. The thing I learned from her is that talent is as common as dirt. If you doubt this, spend some time on YouTube looking at the homemade videos of unknown musicians in their living rooms who put the famous musicians to shame.

Luck is what turns talent into fame. But fame is not always a fortunate thing. It is often a really bad thing. I think most famous people go to Hell. And our obscure lady with the voice of an angel is known by God, and she sings for Him. If she makes it to Heaven, that will be a life lived well even if it was lived in obscurity.