Some days, most, I feel blessed at the opportunity to wander and ponder. Yesterday was one of those days, not the least because it was sunny and warm, more like spring than fall, hopeful rather than dreadful.
I met a friend for coffee at Southside, a great guy who has been out of work a year. He has now, somewhat unwittingly because he hates the hustle, become a freelance web designer, his recent clients ranging from restaurants to actresses and, "oh, yeah, a beef jerky maker."
He is trying, hard. He well deserved his gold star. He is smart, great at what he does, but not so adept at self-promotion. He'd rather just work with people he likes, barter, except that doesn't pay the bills or buy him his dream bike.
Things are looking up, though, he said. "I finally feel like I can wedge a finger through the noose around my neck," he said,acting out the gesture, a smile emerging from his scruff. "I told that to someone recently and they looked at me strangely and said 'Someone else used that exact analogy recently...'"
I laughed. Funny the phrases, the sentiments that become common during difficult times. I hadn't heard that one but I told him of a neighbor's comment, a while back, when asked how he was:
"Just clinging on to the wreckage..." he'd said. Nice. At least he was still holding on!
The beauty of having no job is that he's begun to read again, classics he never got to, comic books, anything that tickles his fancy. He is learning, about the world, about himself. It is a luxury though worries about mounting debts don't always make it feel so.
Leaving him, I popped in to Music Matters to buy 'This is It'. I was so enthusiastic about the film, about the performers, that the owner asked me if I was a dancer. I laughed.
"Not publicly..." I said, "though I will be dancing to this a lot, in my kitchen, with my kids." The last CD I bought from him was Saturday Night Fever, which I was nostalgic for, remembering the days I danced in my family room to that. I told him I related to the movie as an aspiring creative person.
"It's so hard to really put your whole self out there," I said. "Watching these people who traveled from all over the world just to dance or sing or play with Michael Jackson...it was amazing."
He smiled and nodded. "True," he said. He hasn't seen it yet. He got a gold star anywway, for carrying the CD, which he put with his other one, right on the register.
Headed home, I ran into someone I hadn't seen in a while. He had been laid off as well, more recently, and when I said I was sorry, he shook his head. "No, don't be," he said. He said he was glad for it, even though it had felt really bad right after it happened. Now, though, on unemployment for a bit, he was happy to have the time to step back and survey the landscape, to determine, without distraction of the daily grind, what he might really want to do.
I nodded, relating. "It's a great time to get creative, if you can," I said.
He is tired of working for people who want to cut corners just for the almighty dollar, who want him to care less so they can get away with being careless.
He remembered a conversation he'd had last summer with my father about the economy, about it going bust because of the sheer greed going on all around. "He was dead on," he said, "I think of him all the time..."
I laughed. My father's enthusiasm is always remembered. He's a talker, a passionate one. I take after him for sure.
We talked about the myriad of things that stop us from doing what we really want to do, of being a perfectionist and, as such, subject to the "paralysis by analysis" that plagues many who don't take Nike's advice to just do it. He is trying to strike a balance.
What should I say? I analyze constantly, it is why I write. A cousin told me today she checks out my blog occasionally.
"Wow," she said, "you think so much, I mean we all think but...by the time I'm done, I'm exhausted!"
I laughed. "Imagine being me!"
I'm glad, though, feel lucky I have this time to wander and ponder, feel glad that others who find themselves unemployed, even forcefully, see the silver lining and recognize the opportunities time and thought can bring.