Saturday, 18 February 2017

The Joy Of Being Lister

There have been a lot of changes in my life over the past few months. Relationships, career, financial.. All of which has led me to really embrace the joy of being Lister.

But what is the joy of being Lister?

David Lister - Red DwarfI'm sure to a lot of people the name will be familiar, but for those of you who have no idea who Lister is, and why he's so joyful; I'll offer up a brief introduction.

In the long running British sitcom; Red Dwarf; Lister is the bunk mate of Arnold Rimmer. Where Arnold is a driven, and career orientated individual; Lister is the archetypal drifter. Rimmer makes revision timetables, Lister makes a mess of the front of his shirt whilst eating chocolate eclairs. They are chalk and cheese, that through a sheer twist of fate (nicely outlined early into "Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers", in a section that precludes the first televised episode), end up crossing paths and becoming roomies.

They're a typical odd couple, which provides an obvious source of comedy; but beneath the surface animosity there is a deeper message. This is where we find the joy of being Lister.

Rank, position, and power are all very important to Rimmer. Yet despite 15 years of long service at the point where we join the story; he has only achieved the rank of Second Technician. The second lowest rank on board the ship. This is not for the want of ambition on his part. Simply that his ambition far outweighs his ability. Not that this is ever going to stop him trying to reach for the stars, even if his own inability to achieve his goals is a primary source of his self-loathing and frustration.  

Then we have Lister. A lowly Third Technician, with the bad luck of having Arnold Judas Rimmer as both a room mate and a shift leader.. And not just any shift; Z shift. The least respected shift on-board whose only real responsibility is keeping the nozzles of the chicken soup dispensers clean. Despite his dire predicament, Lister is both cheery and optimistic.. Even when everything he knows is taken away from him in the radiation leak that wipes out the crew, and he finds himself marooned 3,000,000 years into deep space.

But why?

In life the things that Rimmer sought were largely material; where Lister saw that same value in interpersonal relationships. Whether that be with his drinking buddies, or in the bunk of Kochanski; his one true love (and his mother as it transpired).

With that all gone, Lister still doesn't lose heart. He goes on one hell of a bender admittedly, but several bottles of Whiskey later, and upon discovering he's not alone (Holly the ships A.I resurrects Rimmer as a hologram to keep Lister sane seeing how self-destructive he had become at the loss of the crew, and the bleak reality of staring down eternity alone. Together, they then discover Cat, a life form that evolved from Lister's pet cat Frankenstien); plucks up the resolve to follow the dream he had prior to the accident. Owning a farm on Fiji.

That's the joy of being Lister.

Not the owning of a farm on Fiji. That's immaterial. It's about your quality of life, and what you are doing to enrich it.

My new job doesn't leave me with a lot of money to play with, but they're a lovely bunch of people. Something that more than makes up for the drop in wage. I'm also only working part-time; which allows for a much better work / life balance. Another plus.

So for a Rimmer the loss of status, title and money would be a big body blow; but for a Lister every cloud has a silver lining.

Simply put, to be happy nothing has to change other than how you choose to view the situation.

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