On the Need to be Needed 8/21/19

By Richard Bleil

Moving on is a difficult thing. I’m sitting in a long-term hotel room in Omaha, where I know almost nobody at all, starting a new life. It’s not an easy thing.

The goal is to start my own business, one that I can ride into my old age, and earn an income to replace what should be a retirement savings. Unfortunately, I’ve never been good at saving money, and with the “bumps in the road” I’ve suffered, I have literally no savings whatsoever.

So, I get to work in my “golden years”.

Okay, fine, my “golden years” are a few ways away yet, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’ll end up needing to work through them. Fortunately, I believe with my education and experience in the sciences, I’ll be able to do this with consulting, so I doubt I’ll have to do heavy lifting at eighty-seven.

But I moved here from Sioux Falls where I was living with a friend who was kind enough to let me live in her basement. I suppose that, with no rent and the companionship, there was little reason to really move on. But, the point is, moving on is always accompanied with stress, and honestly, when suffering from manic depression as I do, moving, changes in the routine, and the stress that comes with it brings about serious bouts of depression, adding to the difficulty of the task ahead.

Fortunately, I’m needed, as difficult as that is to believe.

See, I came out a few months ago on a trip to kind of set the groundwork for the move. In that trip, I reached out to a local college in hopes that we could come up with an arrangement so I could utilize some of their equipment for a contract I have. As it turns out, they, too had a need.

See, they had, at least temporarily, lost an adjunct chemistry professor. The course is a pretty low-level chemistry course, but they have four sections, and they found only one adjunct who could only teach one of the sections. So, they were stuck looking for somebody to pick up the slack on the remaining four sections. The students in this course are mostly nursing students, and the way that college scheduling works, if they missed this course, they would be behind for an entire year. Now, I’m needed.

Being needed is a funny thing. It seems like I cannot do the simplest thing for my own well-being, but if somebody needs a jar of pickles for supper, I can’t let them down. My friends have learned this trick, actually. If they want me to join them for supper, or an event, they will invite me, along with a need. Bring bread, or desert, or some condiment, and they know that I will be there. But invite me to supper, and with my depression, I’ll find it difficult to get out of bed. My anxiety won’t allow for the possibility that people might actually want to see me, just because we’re friends. For some reason. my heart won’t let me believe that, although my mind tells me otherwise.

Now there are, oh, ninety or so students that need me. This gave me what I needed to actually find the motivation I needed to leave my friend’s basement, and move to Omaha. I have plenty of work left. I can’t live in this hotel forever, and I need to start building a client base. With a regular class schedule, I will remain motivated to get up on a regular basis, and keep moving, even when I don’t have a class to teach.

It’s an odd thing, to need to be needed. I suppose that’s why I went into education in the first place. It’s an attempt to make a difference for the future, to leave an impact. I have no children to leave for the future. This is the more traditional way to have an impact on society, but having children, and raising them to be good citizens and good people. So, I try to make good citizens of other people’s children, to teach them to be critical thinkers, and stand up for their beliefs.

In the end, it comes down to being needed. The human beast is not meant to be solitary, as unfortunately I have been for most of my life. We’re social creatures. Collectively, we’ve built a society, and we need to belong, we need to connect, and we need to be needed.

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