This morning, I encountered Aristotle on the front lawn. Before I can explain how this came about, I have to back track a little. One of my favourite writers is Robert Moss. I discovered him in 2001 when I was living in the tropics, and his book Conscious Dreaming changed my life. It’s my ambition, one day, to get along to one of his workshops. Meanwhile, I ‘make do’ with his books.
From one of them I learnt the technique of stepping outside the house, and allowing the first out of the ordinary thing I see to become a kind of love letter from the universe. Robert suggests being slightly more focussed, as in holding a problem or issue in your mind before stepping outside the house, and seeing if that first unusual thing can give you a fresh take on what it is that is troubling you. Today, however, I just stepped outside.
This is how I how I met Aristotle on the front lawn.
I was setting out for my regular walk around my suburb, feeling grateful that the wind which plagues Canberra in spring was having a Bex and a good lie down. It was also recycling day, so the advertising flyer which had employed Aristotle had ridden on the wind and landed in my front garden. The bold type on the flyer attributed to the Big A read ‘Choice, not chance, determines your destiny’. Definitely words to make a girl stop. I picked up the flyer, secreted it in my pocket and continued my walk.
The reason why I was out walking at a civilised hour of the morning is because I am unemployed. This was a choice, not something thrust upon me. I resigned because I could no longer bear the appalling behaviour, and because, frankly, I hated it. It had gotten to the point of needing to put myself to bed for an hour or so each evening just so I could find enough energy to face cooking dinner. Hating what you are doing for most of your waking hours and forcing oneself to continue to do it is a profound unkindness to yourself.
Having said that, it was also a massive shock. I had removed myself from the world. There’s no one to play with because all your friends are still at work and coming home exhausted, and to make matters worse, they are jealous of you and think that your new life must be better than theirs. To them, feeling lost and lonely and suddenly unsure of anything you might have to offer to the world seems like a small imposition compared to being at the beck and call of their emotionally stunted senior managers.
I would certainly rather endure my unpleasant feelings of loneliness and superfluity than return to my old job. I’m going to hang out here in the luxury of unallocated time for as long as I possibly can. Aside from daylight savings time being foisted upon me, this is the first time in my entire life when I have been free of the demands of the great institutions of our society. I do not have to be anywhere at any particular time. I don’t have to wear a certain type of clothes to convince people that my brain functions. I don’t have employ corporate speak, or academic speak, or any of the other officially sanctioned languages we are forced to become fluent in. I don’t have to hand anything in for assessment. I don’t have to sit for hours enduring back pain to write something that a) some more senior bureaucrat will simply rewrite how they wanted it in the first place, to hand on up the line for each other person to rewrite in light of their take on the political winds or b) to please some marker who has the power to admit me to the ‘club’.
Instead, I relish sleeping till when I’m ready to wake. Having breakfast slowly. Walking around my suburb and literally smelling the roses. Getting the hang of this blog. Working on my novel. Visiting the library, the gallery, the gardens, anything that attracts me. Napping if needed. Ribbon therapy with the Iron Paw. I’m living a very unremarkable life in many ways. When my brother rings me and asks me what’s doing, all I can generally say is tell him which novel I’m reading out of my massive backlog. Isn’t that wonderful? It is to me, and as it’s my life, only my opinion counts.
Resigning from that job is one of the best choices I’ve ever made in my life. My former work colleagues continually reinforce to me that I am missing nothing. Except a pay cheque, I remind them. My funds are starting to run low, and the utilities still want to be paid. Unless I win Lotto, or my almost completed novel gets accepted at first try and turns out to be a remarkable best seller, I’m going to have to step back into that world of schedules and demands. I wonder what choices I can make so that when I ask The Question at the end of the day my answer will be yes. What’s the question, you ask? The question is this: If I die in my sleep tonight, will I be happy that that is how I spent my last day on earth?
In my pre resignation life, the answer was always no. These days, I’m so content that I regularly fail to even ask The Question. Long may this blissful state of affairs continue.