Again, though I have no particular reason to explain it, I still feel all right. It seems true that there is no particular end to this period of change in sight. And my gut still does not like the disenfranchised feeling that I now constantly carry with me. But some part of me suspects that this current dive into the doldrums will turn out much better than if I hadn’t gone through all these changes.
About eight years ago, when I was feeling particularly caught in a career bind, I also had this same kind of feeling. At that time, my landscaping business did not seem like it was long for this world, yet my teaching career seemed to have lost some steam.
I had applied for a full-time position at another community college and had made it to the final stop, the interview with the president. Until that day, I seemed destined to get the job. I could feel it. But when I arrived on campus for that final interview, all had changed. The place was distant and I could feel that the job had already been decided. Indeed the interview was a complete joke. The president was on automatic and didn’t pay any attention to me, asking questions only because he was obligated to do so. I came within a hair’s breath of directly asking him about who was already hired, just to put an end to the nonsense. Some part of the spectator in me overrode that feeling and I went into observation mode.
Indeed, I did not get the job. Since I had absolutely no prospects during that time where I taught as a part-time instructor, all seemed lost. This had been a change I’d been working on for close to ten years and I now had little or no hope. There hadn’t been a hire in my discipline where I worked for about eight years and the impending retirement of one faculty member was going to be filled by someone other than me with a particular area of expertise that I did not possess.
Just after I had failed to obtain the teaching position, other things went awry. My second love and I began having problems in earnest. Moreover, I contacted some kind of food-borne illness that had turned systemic. I began losing weight and having health problems. This was not a part of the pattern in my life. I was not only a healthy person, but could not stand being sick. But my physical malaise continued for months. Naturally, it morphed into a psychological malaise. When I worked, I kept the problems at arm’s length, but when I was alone, it all came rushing back. It became the most serious physical problem I’d ever had.
Finally, it seemed to turn a corner. I clearly remember seeing an obituary as I was thumbing through the newspaper one day. It was the name of a person I’d known and who had briefly done me a favor. Though only about four-years older than I was, he had passed away from a systemic infection. It was at that moment that I felt like I had dodged a bullet and finally found myself on the way to physical recovery.
Still, the love relationship remained rocky and I was flat denied a full-time position where I worked. When that denial came, I felt like I do today–a door seemingly had slammed shut, but it just didn’t really feel like it. That feeling proved true when, within a couple of months, I was offered a temporary one-year position, which I gladly took. Then, the next year, another full-time position opened up. This was unbelievable as it was the second year in a row that my discipline was hiring and this time it was a discipline expansion, rather than hiring a replacement due to a retirement.
I still had to jump through all of the hoops, though I held the temporary position (indeed, I was given my notice of release before the end of the school year, as required by law for anyone with a temporary assignment), and, at the time, I did not have a Ph.D. as the college preferred. I was certainly competing against a lot of Ph.Ds. for the position. However, again I made it to the final interview, and this time I was offered a position.
There it was, after having no hope, it worked out anyway. This wasn’t the first time this had happened either. And I’m not special in that regard. Many have such stories.
Sometimes reason and explanation just run out of resources, but the being doesn’t run out of options, though reason will try and convince us otherwise. Sometimes, like a lot of things in this life, one must learn about the limitations of a preferred mode of seeing the world by being denied that mode.
I’ve run out of reasons and explanations for seeing renewal. Some part of my experience with the death of my mother is shouting hopelessness. Some part of my experience with my father, my siblings, my loves is shouting hopelessness. Some part of my experience with work and with belongingness is shouting hopelessness.
But some part of my experience laughs at my experience. Experience is not the great truthsayer, it is an interpretation. A given problem does not necessarily have a given solution, though it can be experienced and reinforced that way.
So, no woman, no particular support–though my children still like me–trouble at work, the loss of my mother, the thrashing around in the quicksand of illusion, and here I am, feeling like all of it will turn out. There is a woman and a relationship yet to be that is not built on illusion. There is a job yet to be that is not about hierarchies and positioning, there is a way to die without losing hope or clinging to the illusion of a past.
My reason is rolling its eyes and shaking its head. How can one possibly know anything without a reference point? However, how can one possibly transform without giving up the known? Well, that seems somewhat reasonable. At least what I “know” will shut up for awhile at that.
Perhaps it is only that the journey out of insanity seems insane. To know what is sane and not sane, one must go back to the original benchmark, the original reference point. To the best of my knowledge, that appears to be an energetic space where the immutable laws exist, one of which is life, another of which is the space to create, and yet another, the gift of attention, awareness, consciousness (to one degree or the other) that can form its own intent and its own direction and its own universe in which to experience, to dance, to play, and to interact with the rest of creation.
Insanity often stems from trying to create from something already crazy, like building logically from an illogical premise. The result is doomed. But to be able to go back to the original premise, to the very nature of the tools we have, is to evaluate our sanity based on those immutable benchmarks–the most stable reference point we have at our disposal.
Though I’m sure that the edges of my old patterns will reappear from time to time until they become extinct, it is time to get on with it. Let there be a new breath, a deep renewing breath.