Thursday, April 18, 2019

April 18: Job Satisfaction, Out Loud, Church Musicians

Arthur and Ford have just met Marvin the robot, who just expressed his disdain for the programming of the Heart of Gold spaceship . . . 

Marvin regarded it [the door] with cold loathing while his logic circuits chattered with disgust and tinkered with the concept of directing physical violence against it.  Further circuits cut in saying, Why bother?  What's the point?  Nothing is worth getting involved in.  Further circuits amused themselves by analyzing the molecular components of the door, and of the humanoids' brain cells.  For a quick encore they measured the level of hydrogen emissions in the surrounding cubic parsec of space and then shut down again in boredom.  A spasm of despair shook the robot's body as he turned.

"Come on," he droned, "I've been ordered to take you down to the bridge.  Here I am, brain the size of a planet and they ask me to take you down to the bridge.  Call that job satisfaction?  'Cos I don't."

He turned and walked back to the hated door.

"Er, excuse me," said Ford, following after him, "which government owns this ship?"

Marvin ignored him.

"You watch this door," he muttered, "it's about to open again.  I can tell by the intolerable air of smugness it suddenly generates."

With an ingratiating little whine the door slid open again and Marvin stomped through.

"Come on," he said.

The others followed quickly and the door slid back into place with pleased little clicks and whirrs.

"Thank you the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation," said Marvin, and trudged desolately up the gleaming curved corridor that stretched out before them.  "Let's build robots with Genuine People Personalities, they said.  So they tried it out with me.  I'm a personality prototype.  You can tell, can't you?"

Ford and Arthur muttered embarrassed little disclaimers.

"I hate that door," continued Marvin.  "I'm not getting you down at all, am I?"

Marvin is comic relief.  A depressed robot that hates his job, knows he's smarter than everyone around him, and yet still worries about people's feelings.  He's a metaphor for every person who has ever worked at McDonald's or retail.  Underemployed and underpaid and underappreciated.

Now, I know you're thinking I'm going to launch into a long rant about my current employment situation.  I'm not.  Yes, the pay stinks.  Yes, the hours are long.  Yes, I get yelled at a lot on the phone by dissatisfied patients.  It's all part of working in healthcare.  Sick people are frightened, angry, and lost.  Like Marvin, they have very few outlets for these emotions.

No, I'm going to talk about what I'm doing tonight.  It's my monthly dose of Out Loud at the Joy Center.  Out Loud is an event where poets, writers, storytellers, and artists come together to share their thoughts and work.  Every time I attend Out Loud, I walk away somehow uplifted and enriched.  Rolling into Easter weekend, I need that.

If you have never been a church musician or involved in music ministry, you probably don't understand the stress of Holy Week.  It's the most important time in the entire Christian year.  The Big Show, if you get what I mean.  There are liturgies followed by more liturgies followed by side liturgies followed by a small nap followed by liturgies.  It's stressful and beautiful at the same time.  In the next four days, I will be involved in five separate Masses and church services.  

All of this wouldn't cause me so much stress if I were a truly gifted musician.  I'm not.  I'm a hard-working musician, requiring a lot of practice.  I have already spent many hours at the organ going over music for this weekend, and I still don't feel prepared.  Gifted musicians practice as much as I do, but that practice is so much easier and more joyful for them.  

No, my gift is writing and poetry.  It comes easily to me.  Working on a poem is not stressful.  It's a wonderful challenge.  I enjoy it.  A lot.  Practicing music, on the other hand, is a chore for me.  I love the results, but the process is incredibly difficult.  By noon on Easter Sunday, I will be brain dead.  That is a guarantee.  

Thus, I need Out Loud this evening.  To charge my batteries for a long weekend of holy stress.  Poetry may not pay much, but it's where I feel most alive.

Saint Marty hopes you all hug a church organist this weekend.  They will need it.

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