Solipsism – 7

It just occurred to me that if I hadn’t put myself through the process of acquiring an MBA degree 15 years ago or if my graduate school studies had been free, I would have considered myself in a very happy place at this moment.

I am not questioning the worth of that degree but examining its full worth may be a futile exercise in hair splitting.  Because no matter how many things I put down in the column entitled “Pros”, the “Cons” would forever weigh down the scale, forcing the other side all the way to the ground because it has left me with what appears to be an unerasable debt.  I don’t have enough years left in my working life to be able to erase this debt.  It is almost like those asthma or COPD commercials for the drugs for these conditions.  They always show a lumbering elephant walking around the person playing the part of the asthmatic.  The person playing the part appears somewhat content having consumed the drug being pitched but the elephant never leaves the room, it follows her around at a slow but steady pace.  I suppose these commercials hint at the incurability of these conditions, suggesting that their drug will only temporarily relieve the onerous condition.

I spotted another commercial for a drug for gout a few months ago.  Here the gout afflicted person was initially carrying around a huge, unmanageable and unwieldy jar of bilious green fluid, balancing it on his person, on his car, living his life while carrying this thing around.  Then the drug got prescribed and the jar shrank in size until it was barely visible in his messenger bag.  Well, lucky are the consumers of this drug if the claims made in this commercial are valid.  In my case my various jobs have been an extremely inadequate pill for the bilious loan I am carrying around.

The degree was rendered inadequate in the Bush years, I suppose, and it has never regained its worth or adequacy, joining the ranks of all depreciated things – homes, cars, employable worthiness as a function of advancing age.  It is my elephant in the room or my big jar of gout.

I can ignore it.  I can go days and months without thinking about it, just sending an automatically paid, painful pound of flesh the way of a lender appropriately initialized as SM, every month.  I try to remember the most memorable television miniseries lines ever spoken, “when you are forgotten you cease to exist” [Merlin] and I think of all the wise men who say you can become what you pretend you are.  I’ve tried to visualize it crumbling to dust and disappearing, I have tried to forget it, I have tried to pretend I am debt-free but it sticks around like a big jar of gout or a dolorous, trunk and butt swinging elephant.  Perhaps that’s the big “Pro” – this degree keeps me from being trampled by the object of its own creation.  Circular reference rears it ugly head again.

So much for the enthusiasm of ones twenties when everything seems possible and all dreams are still alive.  Then on come the shackles, in some form.  There are worse shackles in other lives I suppose and again, what purpose will complaining serve? We’ll carry it around till death do us part from it.

I did intend for this solipsistic detour to be somewhat upbeat – note the first three lines where I say I would be in a happy place but for this thing – but I lose my smile when I think of this thing that I can’t possibly afford to not think about.  An extreme evil in the form of capitalized or compounded interest will be wrought on my person if I ever really forgot about it!

So we labor on, relishing momentary joys, doing what we can, never what we would love to do because forgetting it is simply not an option.

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