Beware the English Major

One of the most common things people say to me is “at least you get to do what you love”.  I’ve mentioned this before. It sticks in my head… especially when I’m doing something tedious like updating my spreadsheets or putting addresses on packages or carrying paintings to and from the car…

I do love my life, but I think it’s not because I have the right occupation. I made a decision many years ago that I was going to find a way to love my life no matter what it was.

There’s this book, The Gulag Archipelago, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, that I read many years ago. I found a hardback copy in an antique mall of all places, when I was about 16 and read the thing from cover to cover. Being 16, I was filled with all the usual ambition and angst and superfluous passions, and reading such abject miseries made an incredible and indelible impression on me.

One of the ideas I took away from the book was that sometimes life is just patently unfair. Some wonderful people get the most unbelievably difficult paths to walk. It happens over and over and over, assaulting the spirits of the sufferer and the bystander.

So, I think to myself, if all this unfairness is going to happen, what am I going to do about it? I have seen mixed results in the “justice system” and don’t feel like I can really help there. I’ve seen the same mixed results in the “education system” and did my time trying to help there… but even when I work as hard as I possibly can, it’s still like pouring water into a bucket with a giant hole in the bottom. The need is so exceedingly cavernous that my efforts disappear almost instantly into the void.

What is left for me to do? If I can’t save “them”, I guess I’ll have to save myself. For all the deprivation I see, I will try to appreciate what I have all the more. When I see the images of famine and genocide, I will love more. I will make my life worth it… because whether it gets better or worse for me or anyone else, if I live with joy, I’m adding more joy to the universe. If I mourn for those who suffer, I only add more suffering. That’s the best I can come up with…

Ah… the peril that befalls the English Major… A simple conversational utility like “At least you do what you love” becomes some extended, existential meditation. How silly and frivolous!

Here! Have a painting. I hope it gives you a good feeling.


Come Along

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10 Responses to Beware the English Major

  1. Love it. 🙂 The painting and the writing. I appreciate this as I was reading Seth Speaks at 20-21, and some Alan Watts, and read lots of other occult/anti-christian material. I was even enjoying Pagan and Wiccan books yet, they are still influential books in my life. It helped. Kind of. Also made it more difficult to conform or at least made me more aware of my assimilation into a society I never felt completely comfortable in. At least you do what you love. But love the way you live. I used to say…do what you love to do. I think I get confused assuming i have to love how I earn money and in order to do what I love it has to earn money…which is soooo wrong. It helps, if it flows that way to me….but I dislike that thinking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • oceanstarr says:

      Good thoughts! Because of my name, I never had a chance of fitting in where I grew up. I swam in a sea of “Beths” and “Jasons” with my San Francisco name haha…
      So I had to get over not fitting in pretty early. That worked well for me.
      The concept of right livelihood generally includes right compensation… but our society, as you say, is so bizarre, that it seems insurmountable.
      I’m grateful for my moment lol… but if I have to go be a teacher or a janitor or a laborer one day, I hope to greet it with the same enthusiasm.


  2. j.e.glaze says:

    “If I mourn for those who suffer, I only add more suffering.” This is the biggie, and, oddly enough, something I’ve been thinking about of late. This goes against the teachings of ever major religion, it seems – we’re traditionally taught to mourn with those who mourn, sit in sack cloth and ashes and wail until god sees us, etc. Yet, this doesn’t help. It helps others to thinking rolling in the shit of sadness is okay and healthy.

    Mourning is natural, and perhaps to some extent, part of the process of processing difficulties and a sense of loss. Yet, to not mourn – but to still live with joy – this is the way to live.

    Thank you.

    Very much love,


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Stargirl says:

    I love what you’ve written here. I wish I could have the same attitude, but I kind of feel like I’m one of those for whom the hits just keep coming, and it’s really hard to choose to be happy when I get knocked down with every little progress. You’re inspiring, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • oceanstarr says:

      I totally understand that! You know those long spans when I kind of disappear from the internet or don’t share lots of good news? That’s when I’m getting the uglier stuff myself. I don’t always manage to keep the smile on my face ❤ Thank you for saying that! If I can make others' days a little bit happier, it sure makes me feel better about my own existence!


  4. “What am I going to do about it?” Yes, that is the right question to ask and answer. PS Your “works” (painting) have brought me joy in my life. I’m glad to know you.

    Liked by 1 person

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