Tag Archives: finding yourself

What to Learn from Unemployment

I woke up with a smile this morning. I woke up unemployed.

It’s not permanent… yet. They have three months to hire me back. If they can’t, I get severance then. If they do, tickety-boo.  Just not for a while, please.

I’m so fuckin’ tired from runnin’ so fuckin’ long.

I need to stop. I need to breathe. I need to be.  I need to remember small things, simple moments, big dreams, little lessons, and good times. I need this.

Can’t afford this. But I need this.

I used to find stillness often. I’m that person who has literally sat still and watched light change on a landscape (during some midnight summer sun in the Yukon, a religious experience if you’re into that kinda thing). I used to know I could stop, just stand somewhere, just stare, just be.

Be someone doing nothing someplace for some time. Sometimes, it’s everything.

Then I got on a hamster wheel and just started running.

In the last year, I’ve finally forced myself to pull back — a lot. But my downtime has been nothing but fraud. Downtime? Not so much. Just… distraction. I was doing THIS, not that.

Years ago, I was hanging by the window on a ferry ride home, dreading that moment when I stepped off that boat and transcended island time right back into my rat race. This guy, I guess, saw something of that in me, and we got into this conversation. He commented that cities were built to distract us — “Hey, look at the shiny toy! You’re not unhappy at all! You don’t hate your job! Your boss isn’t a fucking prick! Your commute doesn’t suck balls! Hey, there’s a new nightclub — let’s go drink and pretend we’re anywhere but here!”

The city life, we’re all so busy rushing from the job to this to that and fitting him in while squeezing that in, and saving the date in case that other thing falls through, which depends on her contract panning out and —

Oh, Jesus. There are days I just want to stand on the sidewalk and shout at everyone “FUCKING STOP! Doesn’t it get TIRED? Aren’t you SICK of this endless shit? NOTHING EVER CHANGES. It just comes with new toys!”

But then I wonder if it’s just me, and I’m tired of checking into the same plastic neighbourhood and seeing all the same people with their shiny toys and lives of distraction, where nothing real gets said and everything’s all wink-and-nod.

Yeah. I woke up with a smile this morning. Yes, it’ll be hard.

But I’ve been wise to that distraction for so long. I see the veneer of happiness so many people wear every day, the air of lies and fakery that exude as people try to convince themselves that, YES, when they were six and daydreaming before Saturday morning cartoons, that THIS was a life they’d be happy to live — tied to a smart phone and plugging in detail of every single day, microprocessing life and yet never really ever stopping to remember what simply sitting still in a moment feels like. It’s all there in the subtle sighs and sunken shoulders, the trancelike moments where they fall away for just a — and then snap right back into this.

I think we’re all sucked into a “Is this all there is?” moment every now and then. Sure, we convince ourselves this is a pretty good gig, but sometimes the bigness of the world just magnifies the smallness of our lives, emphasizing how stupid it is that our daily grind should seem so immensely important when we know that 15 years from now all these stupid fucking appointments this week will mean jack shit.

I’m unemployed.

It’s time to recalibrate.

It’s time to break the hamster wheel.

There’s a gift, you know, in poverty.

Desperation can be a beautiful thing if you know how to channel it. Being forced to enjoy the simple and the free can remind one just how little it takes to enjoy a moment.

Yes, you might love the chef’s tasting menu at West and the flight of wine you had, but I imagine some sunsets with beer and buck-slice pizza, spent on a log at the beach, would blow your fancy-ass meal out of the water. The laughter, the comfort, the trust, the beauty… True ease.

You can’t buy that. You can trick yourself that it is up for grabs, but… you can’t buy that. It’s not for sale. Only the appearance of it is for sale.

I’ve had simple barbecues, a few good friends, an afternoon with no end pin-pointed, that have left every person there thinking “Yeah, no one’s enjoying their place or moment more than I am right here, right now. It’s this beer, that hot dog, this place, those people, and this feeling of weightlessness and grounding that comes with.”

I wrote once that I want the trappings of success but not the trap. You can keep your microscheduled, nanoprogrammed life of pace and panic. If it means you get the $80 meals and the lights and pizzazz, so be it.

I’m fuckin’ done, Martha.

I need me some time. I need me some mornings when I can roll over with a dopey grin and grumble into my pillow as I try to decide if I get up now and nap later, or sleep another hour, knowing the only other pressing conundrum is when to brew some coffee or start to write.

Other people have money, get to leave town, leave the country, find their fuckin’ selves. Well, some of us are stuck here, broke, hangin’ on a dime and a prayer, clasping at any five minutes we get without obligation.

I’m fine with that. I’m stuck here, broke, nothing but a vague sense I can get by and a will to write the best hardcover memoir you’ll read in 2012.

It’s like Ken Kesey once commented, something to the effect that, if you can’t find God in your backyard in Kansas, he ain’t gonna be found at the Egyptian pyramids, either.

In fact, I think “soul-searching” done abroad in fancy healing retreats may not be as beneficial as tackling those mysteries while trapped in your life. I think you have to earn it harder, you have to want it more, you have to dig for greater meaning. I think it’s too easy when you’re off at some yoga retreat. When you’re here, in your life, you need to make other people understand your search, you have to value yourself to do the work, and you have to balance the life you lead with the life you want.

It’s not easy and it ain’t for chumps.

Find your soul at home and you won’t have to worry about it falling away from you when you “return” to life.

This summer, I find my soul. I catch up with it. I figure out what the beginning after this end is supposed to be. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it better this time.

My life is a gift, man. My adversity is my opportunity.

It’s times like these I call upon this much-loved Bruce Chatwin quote I’ve posted on so many occasions:

“A white explorer in Africa, anxious to press ahead with his journey, paid his porters for a series of forced marches. But they, almost within reach of their destination, set down their bundles and refused to budge. No amount of extra payment would convince them otherwise.

They said they had to wait for their souls to catch up.”

Yeah. That’s right. I woke up with a smile. And you?

The Great Divide: When Relationships Falter

I read one of my reader’s blogs this weekend and found myself thinking about it afterwards. Now, there’s two takes on this posting of his, and this is the first of them. The other I need to write, and it’ll probably be shorter. Since this posting, he’s had awesome sex with the wife and things are looking more promising. (Again, two words: Cock ring.)

He said the following:

Lately my wife has a new habit of staying up as late as I do. She falls asleep early often, but it is on the couch, refusing to go to bed until I do, which is funny since we all know nothing is going happen there. If she goes to bed, she wants me to use the computer from the bedroom. It’s like she’s making sure I have no life to myself, that everything about me must belong to her.

I am married, not owned.

The last line really hit me. No, he’s not the first to say it, but it’s a powerful statement any time it’s spoken. We are not possessions. We are not commodities. We need air, space, trust, and faith. We cannot consciously be shown on a constant basis that we are not trusted, or not only will the fabric of the relationship shred, but so will our self-esteem.

When self-esteem goes, so does any hope of a genuine relationship. It’s a vicious fucking cycle, and one that’s often created out of the insecurities of one lover not trusting the other. Often, it’s simply communication issues, which I’ll talk about next time.

That previously mentioned distrust can be valid. Very. Infidelity isn’t some urban legend that wives whisper about around the water cooler, in daunted tones like they’re talking about the relationship equivalent of Boo Radley; it’s a pressing concern for many relationships, and something both parties need to work very, very hard to avoid.

Creating an atmosphere of distrust when you have no proof, when it’s just you being insecure or having a bad time of it, is dangerous. You’re creating a bell-jar effect for your relationship. Meaning, you’re conjuring a sense of psychic disconnection from your lover by forcing them to be guarded, defensive, or even secretive.

In talking about the article in question, my loverman and I were discussing how, technically, Haaaaa’s blogging manner is an act of defiance and untrustworthiness simply because he’s airing the dirty laundry without seeming to be working on it with his wife, but that’s arguable, considering that she doesn’t seem to be talking, and just pointing fingers. I commented that I felt he was doing the lesser of all evils; he either blogged about his anger and disconnection in a way to get to the bottom of it or would find some commonality with others out in the world, or would instead find himself an outlet or Band-aid out in the world, via an inappropriate relationship with a woman, or some other negative stopgap.

Let’s say this loud and clear: You do not own title on your lover. You simply have lease on a part of their lives, whether you’re married or not. It is always, always, always in your best interest that your lover maintain some of their privacy and “me” time.

Clichés are true for a reason; the law of averages states that, more often than not, that is the truth in that given situation. Such as, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” The more you see a lover, the more chance you’re running out of time for yourself. The less time you have for yourself, the more the likelihood that your thoughts are getting drowned out in your mind.

You may want to be with your lover every day, but it’s just not entirely healthy. Time alone needs to be had, not just by you, but by them. Men, in particular, need that time alone. Manhood is a fragile thing, and when men get too embroiled in their women, they can lose touch with part of themselves. It may not be an immediately pressing issue, but it will eventually become a problem for both people in the relationship. Women need to be more possessive about their alone time, too, because it’s far too easy to find “self”-worth through a relationship – also a very detrimental thing, and something all too common with chicks.

Personally, alone time is absolutely essential to who I am. I can do without a social life, but I cannot, WILL not, do without time alone. To do so would be to destroy who and what I am. To do so would mean you’d get no fodder to read.

Marriages, I presume, eventually have phases where things get a little crowded. We’re told that, because it’s a marriage, it’s a “partnership” and everything is co-owned and shared, etc. In the end, though, it can’t be. I’ve quoted Grandma Death from Donnie Darko before, and I’ll do it again now: “In the end, every living creature dies alone.”

Between now and your death, make certain that the person who finds their way into that pine box is a reflection of the person you’ve always been. Keep your passions, keep your loves, and allow your lover the time to maintain their own. Healthy people make for healthy relationships.

Each partner must be able to indulge in passions and enjoyments on their own, or soon, they will lose some of their sense of selves, and while the relationship may continue to seem decent in an average kind of way, it’s not going to be same as it once was. Ever. Instead, the relationship becomes a tug-of-war, or worse, routine. Never, ever settle for the routine, and tug-of-wars aren’t worth the energy expended on them.

We can easily forget about the things that make us tick. Face it, life is designed to distract us from unhappiness. Not thrilled with life? The new Audi will solve that problem. Things getting too difficult? The airline has a 2-for-1 deal on flights. Insecurities getting you down? Bedhead’s got great hold in their hair products, and they smell nice, too!

When we’re unhappy in relationships, in life, we fill the gaps with things, with television, with sleep, with food. We do everything we can but face the problem itself, fearing that the cure is worse than the illness – which is often anything but true. Talk to your lover. Trust them. Give them space. Go listen to Sting’s “If You Love Somebody (Set Them Free)” and remind yourself that the song’s just echoing an eternal truth. Love comes back to you. And if it doesn’t, it was never yours to begin with. Again, clichés are true for a reason.

Why it takes so long to leave an unfulfilling relationship is that we can sometimes forget what it was like to be single, and we forget the sense of fulfillment we can take from ourselves. It’s scary, the notion of being alone versus being unhappy and together. The devil you know, etc. Relationships have a way of falsely making us feel whole – until the relationship’s flaws begin to become evident and we remember that, once upon a world, we were a different person with different needs and somewhere, somehow, who we were began to murkily assimilate with who our lovers were, with the lines dissipating in the dark of it all.

We are not possessions. We are flawed, imperfect beings who sometimes need the space to remember ourselves, for our lovers’ sakes. But, mostly, for our own.