Last week I took an Uber from my hotel to the airport. It wasn’t the happiest ride I would say. I was leaving my heart in California and not in the best conditions. But the Uber driver and I had a conversation we both needed. You know one of those right place right time conversations. I for the distraction and him, I guess to realize he isn’t where he wants to be but he can eventually get there.
Clyde was let go from his job a couple of months ago and he decided to go backpacking with his severance. Which I found fascinating. There are so many things I would have done if I didn’t have Jon so young, backpacking is one of them. A couple years ago I even wanted to join the Peace Corps once Jon was off to college.
Clyde went to South America and was telling me that people over there are so passé about work. If they don’t like their jobs they quit, whereas us Americans are so attached to our jobs we can’t imagine a life without them. He wasn’t wrong. I was sitting right next to my backpack that contained my work computer and the things I thought couldn’t wait for me until I got home. Although I’m not as attached to jobs as I used to be. I’m very career and goal oriented but after losing my job and being unemployed for a year, I realized a job doesn’t define who we are. I told Clyde about the year I took off after my lay-off. I had been in social work for over a decade and suddenly I found myself in HR as a contractual casualty. That is the year I studied abroad in Belize. After working from 14 through 27 without much of a break, it was time. Of course panic set in but in that year I learned lessons I would not have otherwise learned if it weren’t for unemployment. I began to appreciate things differently.
When you lose a job that feels like your identity, you feel sort of distraught. I spent years honing my craft and being a member of the community. I envisioned myself retiring in social work. But. . .admittedly I was relieved the moment I was let go. Social work was taxing, it took over 12 hour days away from my son. I could barely sleep trying to help families keep roofs over their heads, delivering groceries in the evenings, cribs for babies. I loved it but I was tired. After the initial shock I accepted that I was unemployed and I made some adjustments at home. Finally I was able to see my son get off the bus, I was one of those moms that could cook a full meal without rushing to finish case notes. I played games with Jon, I worked on my degree full time and I studied abroad. There were some major sacrifices in that year but when you live off of the bare minimum you realize how much “stuff,” you don’t need. I kept my apartment and my car, paid my bills with scholarships and grants and still managed to live a complete and happy life. I would do that year all over again.
Clyde told me he felt like he was failing because he’d get interviews but never the call backs. So when he gets down he reads a letter he wrote to himself in the peak of his happiness when he was backpacking. The note to self reminds him of where he was and helps pull him out of depression. I thought that was dope, I do things like that all the time. Although they aren’t notes to self but these blogs serve as a time capsule of where I am in certain points in my life. We can go from the happiest high to the lowest low in a matter of hours. So when I’m not feeling my best or if I want to remember a great time, I revisit my blogs for the memory. Writing makes me feel a sense of release and tension, rereading causes a sense of relief I suppose.
While I was sitting in the backseat I started to reminisce about Belize. As a class we agreed to come back the next year, it has now been 7 years and I haven’t been back once. I told Clyde that and he said, well it’s because traveling is so expensive. I agreed but told him, I think we owe it yourselves to travel and explore. Think about when you get a speeding ticket, it’s an obligation and no matter what you find the money and pay. Suddenly the money for that exists but the money for a weekend getaway seems so far away. We pay so much for obligation and so freely that we neglect ourself. He started laughing and said he needed to hear that. It makes sense. . .it’s also advise I need to take for myself.
For years I have wanted to see the northern lights but never get off my ass to go. I’m not saying I am going to have a sudden eat, pray, love Julia Roberts year and go out and do everything I’ve always wanted, but I owe it to myself to do things for me more often than I do.
Before writing this I went back and reread my post from Belize, it was nice to read and remember that person, a person that saw the world like this:
“There is a unique kind of silence in the Cahoon Trail that gives center stage to the insects and birds to create a symphony of noises. Back at home we tend to live on wants, in sitting here in this unfamiliar place, where the natural way of living is giving back, I can see the beauty in it all. This place is home to a symposium of creatures. Tree’s enveloped by thorns, vines and moss, while leaves of all shapes and sizes sprout from the ground and fan the sky. Musky water and a kaleidoscope of greens decorate this environment of natural unaltered beauty.”
Holy shit I was a cheese ball, but I miss that nerd that saw the positivity and beauty in everything.