While walking past the Mind/Body Studio at the YMCA this morning and seeing all the yoga divas training for the Rapture, it dawned on me -- I forgot to buy chocolate covered pretzels at Trader Joes. Don't get me wrong. I want to evolve. Having just been "let go" (fired) from the fourth most visited website in the world (hint: to look it up you will probably use the website itself and note to self: never work as an assistant to a younger woman) I find myself in deep search for a transitional experience. Hey, I've got the spare time, right? Although I'm still not sure if being unemployed at a time in this country when the Employment Development Department is one of the only institutions hiring is terrifying or in some way reassuring, I've decided to see it as an opportunity -- an equal opportunity.
I am what is commonly known on forms and applications as a white woman, age forty-six. Married, no kids. I went to Catholic school in the San Francisco Bay Area, said my prayers, and skipped college (never a "joiner" I always thought of college as more of a clone factory) to travel around Europe on a motorcycle. You may be thinking, "Well, there's your problem. Lack of education and responsibility." Yes, it's been said. But quite honestly, even now as I'm staring at a dwindling bank account and no job prospects, I am not lamenting the choices of my youth. Denial? Perhaps. But as the news reports will show, there are plenty of college graduates out there collecting their $900 state checks every two weeks who've never seen the aurora borealis while camping in Scotland. It's apparent when hard times hit, we are all equal in the same shoddy boat.
What I do lament is the courage and faith of my youth. The ability to trust in myself and the cosmos with assured calm and confidence was swallowed by my promise to get to a job every morning at eight-thirty, five days a week. For almost twenty-five years I've done the "responsible" thing and walked the green mile path of least resistance in order to (pick one): please my mother, eat, pay my bills, fit in, avoid risk, all of the above.
This can no longer be. Having a rather macabre sensibility, I recently went to a website that calculates the date of your death. Apparently, I've got thirty-one years left on this blue marble. The only thing that bothered me about the actual date (June 24, 2040) was the fact it is very close to a dear friend's birthday and I worried I might miss her party. Then the obvious hit. I am missing the party. Every day I go against my own natural grain, I miss the shindig of a lifetime.
I've seen what the end of the world could look like. At least, the closest thing I can imagine. I sat with two friends outside the Convention Center in New Orleans for three days with no food and no hope and watched a great city come apart, a city I still love and pray for every day. I was frightened by many of the responses I got when I returned home safely after witnessing such despair. "That would never happen to me." "I'd have figured a way to get out." "Oh, those poor people." Guess what? While you were updating your Facebook page the flood reached your back yard; it's time to start paddling.
So let's band together, shall we? At a time when so many of us have been given the forced opportunity to rethink and reset, let's flip the switch and forge ahead. Trust me, I know when there are mouths to feed introspection may seem luxuriously selfish but if we can see this period of struggle (personally and historically) as a gift rather than a blow, we may just find the strength and courage to evolve and still be on time for the party. Now off to get those pretzels.
Photo by Shelley Kay, courtesy of Creative Commons license.Tweet