When you find out you aren’t going to have a job—even when the end date is on a horizon you can’t quite see—it’s easy to feel two things simultaneously: copious amounts of sad and copious amounts of pissed off. One thing I’ve never understood about those Khubler-Ross stages of grief is that a lot of them happen simultaneously and not in a orderly list to tick off. That was me this spring: one day chirpy and optimistic about my new future, the next incapable of moving off the sofa for fear I’d start weeping if I turned my head just so, and then the day after that I’d be so angry that a Voldemortress, unknown to my campus little more than a year ago, could wreak so much havoc in my life.
Fortunately for you and my husband, those days are mostly over. (Though I am having some difficulty getting restarted on the household organization and cleanliness aspect that is the first to go if I get depressed.) I can’t promise a constant stream of rainbows and unicorns dancing across the title, but it is my goal to maintain a semblance of positivity here at Meat Pie Window Dressing, and these are the two things that are working for me today.
My new friend A is retired from the army. During the first Gulf War, when I was sitting in front of my newly installed cable, watching the war and weeping because a boy I used to love was in the service and I feared he’d end up dead, A was actually there, doing important stuff. She was making herself worthy of the yellow ribbons I was supposed to be tying on trees and fences if ever I could quit watching the slick images of war that Wolf Blitzer was happy to bring me on a continuous loop.
I’m not about to compare my AWOL job to the first Gulf War. No, it’s just that I’m learning things about military life from A that I wouldn’t know otherwise, and one of them is the phrase “embrace the suck.” She explains the notion behind it—that you might get stationed to some cruddy new post that had little to offer but that while you were there you might as well embrace it in all of it’s glorious suckyness because hating the situation or place wasn’t going to make it suck any less.
My life doesn’t suck. My job doesn’t suck. Seattle definitely doesn’t suck. And life with Z really couldn’t be any less sucky (give or take a lottery win), so I’ve got no suck to embrace. I’ve decided instead that I will embrace the flux. I hate not knowing what I’ll be doing this time next year. I hate that I might be doing something I hate. I hate that I might not be doing anything at all. But since I can’t really do anything about those possibilities, I have decided instead I’ll make a conscious effort to enjoy this period right now where anything is possible. (Well, maybe not the meat pies—I’m deadly in a kitchen.)
To continue with the bad break up metaphor of yesterday, I can keep listening to sad songs on the radio and lamenting all the good times F.U.U. and I had together, with an occasional drive-by and subsequent clutch of the stomach, or I can embrace the possibility of a newly independent life, a life in which I can do a little editing on the side and not worry about reporting it to the business office or pick up a class at a rival university and not be afraid that F.U.U. will ask for its class ring back. It’s a good place to be.
Another friend passed along a post at Zen Habits by Leo Babatau called “The Little Guide to Contentedness” that I’ve found inspiring. In short, the advice is simple: quit trying to improve yourself, embrace whatever moment you are in (even if it is the suck), and be content because this is life, right here, right now. It’s not a new idea, but he wrote it in such a way that I could see a useful application of the principle, nor did I feel I must go buy a yoga mat or download another meditation app for my iPad to put it into practice.
So, I’m no closer to finding answers here, but I’ve got an axiom and a little advice to put in my arsenal. (Is it wrong to say arsenal when promoting Zen ideals?).
Over and out.