This morning the sentence “This bucket of tears” crossed my mind and made me smile. You see, it takes some explaining, but when I was little I thought the common expression for the current mortal life was not “valley of tears” but “bucket of tears.”
How I got there, takes a bit of explaining.
I come from a region of the North of Portugal, which was Galicia almost as long as it’s been Portugal. Either side of the border the language spoken is more similar to the other side than to either Portuguese or Spanish. Among us Galegos, we understood each other just fine.
And one of the characteristic issues is turning all vs into bs. My brother Alvarim signs himself in family communications Barim, which is what we all called him, of course. And I’m still prone to fall into this, you won’t fully know me, until you hear me — when extremely tired — use something like “I don’t habe any vs because habing vs is the debil.” My family shrugs and rolls with it.
Now, I actually have no idea if “balde” is the official Portuguese word for “bucket” or if it’s a regionalism, but for me, as a little kid, balde was bucket. And on being taught the Ave Regina prayer, the phrase “neste vale de lagrimas” (In this valley of tears) in my dad’s at home accent (he was correct at work) immediately translated to “This bucket of tears.” Which of course, made perfect sense.
Now that we’re done with the overly long and complicated explanation….
So, we all live in a valley of tears. It is futile to think if you live correctly no disaster will befall you. As we learned in 2020, no matter how good your plan, it can be ripped from you by idiots running with government and computer models, not to mention an unholy need to steal elections.
Just ask any small business/small restaurant owner, or any of the dozen kids I know who spent their lives planning and working for a career in the performing arts.
There was nothing they could do to overcome the speeding tray heading for them.
Or look at my …. um….. life course.
Believe it or not I took languages and literature not because I was passionate about the subject, but because it was easy, and almost guaranteed employment. Since Portugal is a tiny country, not only do you need a passport to swing even the tiniest of kittens, you need a translator to ask the Spaniards to lean the other way so you can do so. Someone with seven languages would be a no-brainer as a translator, and I could do simultaneous interpreting on the fly for three of those, so I’d be fine.
But just to make sure, having watched my brother eat his heart out with years of unemployment after finishing his degree, I got a certificate for teaching (which meant an additional two classes, to be fair.)
… I then married an American, moved to a country which didn’t accept my degree as a teaching degree (my university wasn’t assigned a code, therefore I couldn’t take the certification exam, because they were computer-graded and would spit the exam out without a code. Just as well. Imagine my career in public schools. Curiously, as we found when the kids were applying to college, my university now has a code. And the teaching degree is accepted. Stop staring at me. Do I look insane?) and there wasn’t much need for a multilingual scientific translator.
I did find a job as such, for a year, but it was underpaid, overworked, no chance of promotion, and they wouldn’t let me take time off for infertility exams/treatments (since I wasn’t technically “sick.”
So… I improvised. For a while I free-lance translated, and was starting to widen my client base, when I ended up on bed rest with older son, and then moving across the country. At which point (since in those days translating was local (no internet)) husband gave me a choice of rebuilding the translation business or trying to write, as I’d always wanted to do.
You know what I chose. And sure, most of the time I made about what an underpaid secretary made, but I got to be home with the kid, and then the other kid, who came as a complete surprise. And clearly we never starved, nor was I suffering from lack of intellectual challenges.
What brought this on?
Well, there was this article reporting with much shock that 30% of college graduates have no life plan.
<Rolls eyes towards ceiling.
How could they? In the middle of the mess we’re in, those of us with more experience and knowledge are finding it very hard to have two year plans, let alone life plans. What can kids, green as grass and twice as innocent know of what might happen in the next 20, 30 or 50 years. Nothing.
How do you plan for the collapse of the central planning, top-down model that now controls the entire world? How do you plan for a change of guard so massive that the last one on this scale involved guillotines?
Even if we manage it without violence — maybe, though like Uncle Lar, I feel a violent spasm in the future and not too far off — as BGE has pointed out there will be a bunch of economic disturbances. Given the massive technological upheaval we’ve been experiencing in the last …. 20 years, “catastrophic inovation” will have a lot to say to the shape of everyone’s future, even in the best of the best case scenarios.
So…. In the bucket of tears, all we can do is prepare the best we can: both by having stuff to get us through the lean times, but also by learning all we can and staying flexible.
And keep learning. And keep your eyes open for opportunities.
Yes, we’re probably heading into a recession of some magnitude, but given knowledge and flexibility, there will also be a bunch of opportunities to go and be on the ground floor of new, fast-rising structures and institutions.
Well, the rest of you. For me, the only thing I’m good for now is writing. But the way to do that is also changing very fast.
Adapt, Improvise, Overcome.
Those who think they can stop us haven’t seen anything yet.
Yes, in this bucket of tears there will always be contretemps and disappointment, loss and tragedy.
But we, like our ancestors, will be ready to meet the trouble and defeat it.
Be not afraid.
Now go get ready.