Being unemployed isn’t as bad as most people make it out to be – at least not for a single guy with no responsibilities – you just have to embrace it. In fact, joblessness has been pretty good to me. Being unemployed is a whole lot of much-needed me time. It’s all about jumping into bed with a carne asada burrito from Chipotle, a bottle of bourbon, and a Cormac Mccarthy audio book. Today I spent the whole day juggling and listening to music – the whole day. And it was awesome. I like drinking alone and I like sleeping in late. I like and I love not having to worry about retail schedules getting in the way of social schedules.
But more than all of that, I really like the freedom and the possibilities that unemployment gives me. I can go anywhere. I can do anything. I could take a job on a construction site, or at a school. I could go back to Australia, or I could go to Vietnam and do the Vietnam Photo Travel Tour. It’s like all the doors in my life are wide open. And they are so wide open that it’s like there are no walls, no barriers of any kind – just open doors, options, opportunities.
It’s an exhilarating feeling – this pure, unfiltered freedom. But it’s also a bit scary.
If you’re into metaphors, it feels kind of like standing at the top of a mountain. It takes a lot of work to get to the top of a mountain. But once you get there, it’s awesome. You’re sweaty, exhausted, your heart is still pounding, your lungs still burning, and you know that you’ve worked really, really hard to reach the apex of this metaphorical mountain. And it feels really good. The wind seems to rush up from all directions, blowing tears into your eyes and tussling your hair as you twirl around with the cinematic splendor of a king-of-the-world Titanic moment.
It was worth it, you think to your self as you take in the beautiful moment, it was really worth it.
You breathe deep, now what?
Now what? Seriously, now what? Now, that you’ve made it to the top of the mountain, WTF are you going to do?
And that’s the bad part of unemployment. The scary part. The “what now?” part.
So what do you do when you can do anything? Do you build a house at the top and live there forever, waiting for weary travelers to happen across your mountaintop so you can dispense your cryptic tidbits of wisdom? No, no, no – that just won’t do – you’re too young and too wild and too free to be the wise old man on top of the mountain. Not just yet.
Do you jump? Standing at the edge of oblivion, on the tipy top of all that struggle and hard work, sometimes jumping can feel like the only real option. You feel like you’re done. You climbed the mountain – now, it’s time to jump. It’s a logical progression, but unless you’re attached to a parachute, you should probably keep your feet on the ground.
Do you go back down the mountain? That just feels like back-tracking, but I guess it’s the only real answer – go back down, and tell others about the mountain. You can make yourself sound cool at cocktail parties by talking bout how good it is up there, and how hard it was to get there. Then, once the novelty wears off, it time to look for another mountain to climb.
My dear friend Julia David has a tattoo that reads: “Beyond Mountains There Are Mountains.” I really love this phrase and I might ink it on myself one day, if she doesn’t mind. She says it’s an old gypsy proverb. To me, it has two meanings. First, it means that even when we have solved all our problems, there will inevitably be new problems that arise – new mountains to climb. But with a more positive spin, it also means that we will always have a new challenge to look forward to. The world is a boundless resource of new experiences, new trials and hardships, sure – but also new feelings of exhilaration and twirling, king-of-the-world moments of cinematic splendor. Because for every mountain, there is a mountain top.
Now, I just need to lay off the burritos and bourbon and decide which mountain to climb.