December 7, 2013

Who Put the “Bless” into Jobless? ~ Agnes Gardener

Being jobless is a scary time in anyone’s life, but now, much to my surprise, I find myself enjoying bits of it!

Lots of sleep.

Yes, that’s important. Beauty sleep, sanity sleep, health sleep. Lots of dreams, too. My dreams right now are turning from worst case stress-at-work scenarios to freer associations about captivity and freedom. I think my soul is trying to tell me something about myself, and not about the situation I’m in.

The support of friends and family.

I have always lived a quite independent life, so normally I don’t have the chance to experience this, but now everybody seems to take care to reassure me, to offer comforting words and all kinds of help: ideas, connections, food, some cash to tide me over. Nobody wants to make me feel ashamed, nobody says: “How could you screw it up like that?”, which is something I deeply fear. Which, in turn, is something I could discover about myself only now that this blaming never happens.

I am feeling a twofold gratitude because of this: for my friends and family’s kindness, and for their not making my fears come true.

Having the opportunity to make different kinds of decisions than before, while I was employed, grips my mind and shakes it awake. If there’s a state of mind which lets new things happen, this is it. I have found new ways to try myself out: odd jobs, volunteering, exploring and reevaluating.

Looking uncertainty in the face.

It’s one thing to know that “everything is uncertain” and another thing to experience that. I feel that I lost control over my life, and it’s really true for a significant part of it: my livelihood. But I also know that what I lost was only the illusion of control. Things could have gone awry anytime—which, finally, they did.

It has happened and I’m still here.

Time to meditate; I don’t use all this time as wisely, but anyway it’s good to know the time is there for it.

Time to write; some of it comes from my heart and some of it comes from a feeling that I must keep busy. But that feeling is also in my heart, so…

Time for my yoga practice (though less money to pay for the classes).

As the time goes by, and also unanswered job applications and unsuccessful job interviews go by, it’s great to experience the ceasing of anxiety. The situation sheds its skin of unreality, “It’s not me, it’s not my life, get me out of this, quick!” and is seen for what it is: “This is what’s happening to me right now, so let’s deal with it.”

I feel that the harder it seems to get back on track again, the safer I am. The difficulties and obstacles seem to be out of proportion. So it seems to me that this situation is not up to me—and if it’s not up to me, then it must be up to something else.

This is the same feeling of security I get when I see myself as a speck of dust in the universe.

I used to be irritated by the homeless. This was when I was really into my career, making a lot of money, being on the up and up. Some years later, when I decided to slow down, I found myself being touched by the lives of people on the street. I took care to notice them, to notice their needs, to give some money, to stop for a chat. It felt good. Now, when I am conceivably in danger of getting to be one of them, it feels like a soft cushion. Not that I think being homeless can ever be easy or pleasant, but knowing that I have felt closer to them for some time makes my imagined fall less painful to imagine.

I have come to this turning point in my life unexpectedly, but better prepared than I once was.

Being jobless is a full-time occupation. Fully full-time. It’s not over at the end of the day, it’s not over for the weekend. It’s the most demanding job of all! And I’m quite good at it. I am doing the things that need to be done and also having the patience to wait for what must be waited out. And I can still say, “I don’t really know what I’m doing.” This is not my profession, only something like a hobby one can freely enjoy doing as an amateur. 

I’ve suddenly become much more appreciative of other people’s qualities. He has a job, she is able to get one—how impressively clever of them!

A lot of my time is spent in waiting now (and when I say “time” I’m probably meaning “life”). This is a different time zone. We like to go to a different time zone for a holiday, don’t we?

Something good must come out of all of this. No? Not surely. But this attitude is the best I can do lacking the ability to maintain true equanimity. Despite what the occasional, nauseating bouts of fear try to make me believe, there’s still a very realistic chance that everything will turn out all right.

To all my fellow job seekers and joy seekers out there, searching for that rare commodity we call contentment: keep on keepin’ on.


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Assistant Editor: Jaim Coddington/Editor: Bryonie Wise

Image: cobalt123

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