Beyond Mountians…

Beyond Mountains, There Are Mountains - Yosemite: 01-01-10Being 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.

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  • lou bear

    lovin it, absolutely loving it

    you know, sometimes, when i cant get my mind focused and i try to put my chaos in words, you come up with stuff, and i think, thats it. thats absolutely it, he is right, thats what í been doin/feelin.

    the mountains are great, they are a challenge, sometimes really hard ones, but sirious, without the mountains, life would be boring or not???

    k, gotta go get myself a glass of bourbon now, cheers to the unemployed

  • bag lady!

    how weird… i came up with a very similar metaphor when I was hopping around an empty beach in Agadir. it gets a bit complicated and detailed so ill have to explain it later.

    As for your mountain, just use it as a quick lookout point to choose the next mountain to climb and keep on going. Scan the horizon to get an idea of which range works with what you have and head on down! Stay on your mountain too long and you start to think things are too far off in the distance and the elements just tie you down.

    Yayy for wise gypsies and no jobs… one more week til I join my fellow unemployed Americans!

  • sarah

    I miss being unemployed, and it is only my second day on the job, but tonight my work schedule will be interfering with my social schedule!

  • Lorraine

    Hej! I like your article! it took me 1year to climb down my mountain… it was kind of a hard choice! Now I’m climbing hills and hills… but I’m looking forwards to find my new next Mountain ;-)
    Enjoy your bourbon =)

  • Quinn

    Hey Justin! I’m popping over from Twitter…hello!

    I so feel you on this right now. I quit my job in October because I felt limited, shackled, and held back. It was tough at first to leave this amazingly built structure I had lived in for so long, and I continually have to remind myself now that I’ve left that it’s no longer in place. I now have, as you said, unlimitless possibilities. I do have little glimpses of that a-ha moment once in awhile, but I’m still fresh from a job that was my life for 2 years so it comes and goes. Not many of us know how to live in that place comfortably.

    But I think living in this space of “unfiltered freedom” is great if you start placing a structure upon that freedom. No, not like the full-time workaholic structure, but little pieces of form. Mine right now is yoga and graphic design, my 2 main passions. I do a little each day to structure my freedom in a way that helps me breathe a little easier on top of the mountain.

    Thanks for finding me on Twitter as I’m happy to find you,

  • Justin Jones

    Hey Quinn, thanks so much for the response! Change can be scary, especially change like that – but I think you know that the freedom is absolutely worth it! I’m sure we’ll talk more about this – thanks for stopping by!