I have a very strong work ethic and have never missed more than 2 weeks of work in my life (other than vacation or disability for my two pregnancies) since I was 15 and let me tell you, that was a while ago! Here I am possibly having to go on the dole for the first time in my near half century of life. Bummer.
When all the bad news about the economy started, what was it, 6-8 months ago? I started changing the channels on the radio again, just like when there was too much election coverage, or when they started talking about number of troops killed, suicide bombings, etc. and stuck to the 'nice' pages of the paper once again, the Travel section, Food & Wine, the Pink, etc. Is this the ostrich head in the sand approach, or is it simply trying to concentrate on the good things in life, thereby necessitating blocking out all the bad?
Last year when the economy started to tank, and after opening up 2-3 statements decrying the deteriorating state of my 401K, I started to tune all that out, too. Once again, like so many times before when news was bad, I felt so powerless. More than ever before, I tuned it out. I occasionally caught glimpses of news in papers or bits on the radio about increasing homelessness, lay offs, plummeting stocks, foreclosures, etc. (I had shut off the TV after 9/11 when I coudn't stand the replaying of those tapes over and over, the ugly racism it brought to the forefront, and the match that lit the fuse of the war machines again). The food bank that I volunteer at couldn't keep up with demand. Supplies were at an all time low, coupled with an increase in demand.
I don't think I'm alone when I say that by trying to block out the bad news, you're trying to make yourself immune. It's as though the problems with the economy are contagious, and if you're not careful it could creep into your life like the plague. Which is exactly how some people I worked with acted towards me when they learned of my plight as a casualty of the latest round of layoffs. It was as though if they got too close to me, it might happen to them next. I don't fault them for their behavior. Most of us feel awkward even though we're not culpable, because as regretful as we are of their situation, we breathe an inner sigh of relief that it was not us. We feel empathy yet can't find the right words to say. I know because I, too have felt that way when it happened to others in the waves that preceeded me.
My prayer for the planet this week is that all of this turns us inside out and exposes the humility deep inside all of us. Instead of posturing ourselves as though we're above reproach and are therefore safe, in spite of the powerlessness that the current situation creates, we have the opportunity to shed much of the bullshit and live our lives with integrity and grace.
I just saw 'Milk' recently. The single statement that struck me the most was in the beginning when Harvey says "40 years old and I haven't done a thing that I'm proud of." Perhaps this is a time of renewal, reflection and acknowledgement for things more important than just earning a paycheck.
But hey, gotta pay rent. Maybe after months of meditating I'll have to go sell dime bags in a park somewhere or service old dudes in retirement homes on SS check days. Girls gotta do what a girls gotta do!