Tuesday, December 19, 2006

my lacanian lack: ambition

my writing deadlines are totally piling up. there's the thing due at the end of the month for the anthology project and now i've agreed to read at a local venue in january - which i have to frakking write. (uh, the theme is The Erotic. if you know me and are interested, email me and i'll let you know where to catch me.) between writing projects, work, end of year deacon duties, the last of the holiday shopping and B- (the boy), i'm feeling a little bit thin on the ground.

but i really wanted to write about ambition.

tonight, before roomie and i went to our separate bedrooms, we had a quick chat in the hallway about my very west coast way of relating to my family (which is rather laissez faire):

roomie: you're so mean. your poor family is so far down your list.
me: not true! they know i love them. i'm just not good at the details. they're at least #2 or #3.
roomie: what's #1?
me: work. then friends. and family. friends and family usually jockey for the same position.
roomie: where's B-? poor B- is probably #5.
me: no, he's uh, maybe #3. shit. maybe he should be #2, with family and friends.
roomie: so there are sub-folders?
me: no, things just shift.
roomie: but work stays the same. that's sad. no one will care about your work or what you do. when you die, no one will say a word about your profession. you make crap money and it's not personally fulfilling.
me: it is crap money but i am personally fulfilled by it. it's very important to me.
roomie: but no one will care.
me: shut up. i can't help it that i'm a product of my childhood. it was pretty clear that work came before family. i got trained.
roomie: sad.
me: shut up.
(and so on.)

but it made me think. (not so much about my family's position on my priority list. they know i love them but we're just not one of those families that are always checking in with one another. we've never been like that.) it made me realize that work IS very important to me; i mean, i do have ambitions, here. most of my friends have jobs that they don't really care about. they work because they need to pay rent and that's it. as soon as the day ends, it's out of mind. but not me.

(i am firmly ensconced in the bourgeoisie, dude. middle class striving is important.)

the way i feel about my job is the way i feel about my writing. it is necessary to me and part of my identity. i am fed by it. most of the time, i love the feeling i have knowing that i'm contributing, that i'm an important part of something. is this wrong to feel?

work excites me. it challenges me. i'm stimulated by it. when i'm in the zone, i'm focused, i'm productive, i feel like the prickly point of a pencil slashing across a page.

but work feeds a particular need in me - something that can't be fed by friends, family or lovers. or it seems to.

i feel pleasure when i'm with my friends (who are sharp cookies and also challenge me). i am happy with my family and when i'm with them; what i feel is a happiness that makes me feel expansive and good again. it is a sweet amnesia of my world here when i'm there, in the sunlight, with them.

and when i'm with B-, as on/off as we've been over the past 5 years, there's really no sense trying to compare being with him with working. B- will never be satisfying. i mean that being with him will always feel like drinking from the sea - it's a frustrating, unslaked thirst.

and isn't that what ambition is - an unsatisfied appetite for something just beyond your grasp? it's desire. in an oversimplification of something from my undergrad theory courses, i remember jacques lacan defining desire as lack - its nature is defined by what is absent. i guess for me, ambition is desire and work feeds that ambition; it enables the desire, the absence. all the rest - family, friends - these are fulfillment, satisfaction. they are presence, not absence.

so what does it mean that i put desire/absence before fulfillment/presence?

hm. i don't know.


Xpatriated Texan said...

Ambition is just a desire to do your best and advance in life. It's only a bad thing if it actually costs you the things you hold dear - like your family and friends. As you said, "things just shift". If you are thinking about work when you are with your family to the point where you can't enjoy your family, then it's a problem (if it's a continuing issue - once in a while is normal). If you can set it aside and enjoy your family, then you're fine.

No one will care about the job you do? I find that VERY hard to believe. We touch dozens of people every day and don't even know it. I'm sure if you just didn't show up at work for a week, someone would come looking for you.


Anonymous said...

I think you should dump "the boy". If that is all you can think about when you think of him.

Your thoughts on your family I can relate to very much. My family is the same. When I do see them, I am happy to see them. When I don't, well.... I love them.

Ambition is good. Ambition is not good if we lose ourselves. So, we need family to remind of us who we are and where we came from.

You're maturing.

The boy thing is not good. You might need to cut the cord. Find a new one.

Merry Christmas, Ding

ding said...

thank you. the boy has been made permanently absent.

a note to self: red flags are red for a reason! and men in their mid-30's who can't muster themselves to act/live like grownups don't deserve girls.