Hope, hopefully

I was incredibly frustrated a few days ago following the disastrous one-way video interview I submitted in search of a job. It was a terrible offering, and I wouldn’t have hired me based on that. The experience brought me down quite a bit, and I began feeling sure that I would probably never work again – nobody wants to hire aging progressive thinkers with multiple double-chins and who cusses like a sailor. We’re done, it’s over, there is no hope.

Somewhere at the bottom of that bowl of depression and self-pity, I sent out an esoteric flare, a call for help to the cosmos. Yeah, that might sound a bit odd, but that’s how I roll and I had to do SOMEthing. I was sinking fast and low and I know how that wave turns out. It turns inward and erodes what progress I have made and what resources I have accrued, and I can’t afford that right now (or really, at any time). Hence, the flare and call for assistance. HELP! I’m sinking here!

When I send out those flares, there is rarely an immediate response, and never disguised as a miraculous or something spontaneous that doesn’t require more action on my part. It takes a few days, at least in my time, but there’s always a response if I have my eyes and ears open. The response is rarely what I expect, or how I expect it, but it always comes.

The answer that presented itself was definitely not what I expected, but I am grateful nonetheless. I shared the interview experience, quite casually, in an AA meeting and people nodded knowingly. Later, however, someone in attendance contacted me and offered help in looking at my resume’ and discussing strategy for putting myself “out there” optimally. This is not someone I would never have thought had such expertise or would be in a position to help with writing a resume’ or job searching. Shows you what I know.

The traditional winter holidays are a little rough these past few years, and I don’t talk about it much so as not to be Debbie Downer with friends. Since my mother died, these winter holidays have taken on an entirely different complexion for me. I always spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with my mother in one way or another, either her visiting me or me visiting her. I had never been without my mother on a winter holiday since I was born, until she died in 2017. So…no what?

Well, a friend began inviting me to spend Thanksgiving with her and her family in 2017, which remains one of the kindest things I’ve ever had occur. The COVID lockdown has interrupted that, but her door is still open. That has meant the world to me. When it seems as though everyone else has a family to be with on that day, her table is big enough for one more.

This morning, I attended an online session led by a NY minister that I know. She’s actually from South Carolina, and I met her doing work in the UU district that once included NC and SC, and she has remained someone I follow. She hosts a session from her NY congregation called “Rising Strong”, and it’s about lots of things we’re encountering in the strange world of today. This morning it was about joy.

Her remarks about joy were exactly what I needed, about how joy and happiness are not the same thing, just as grief and sorrow are not equivalent. I recalled that when I have experienced happy feelings, they are very good and powerful and usually reaction to something that has pleased me. When the Saints win a football game, that usually causes me to feel happiness. Eating a good meal with friends, having good conversation, listening to good music causes me to react with happiness.

Joy is more a full-bodied experience for me, however. When I had “the talk” with my mother on her literal death bed, I experienced a lightening of my spirit and a release of long-held emotions of sorrow and regret, and when I recall that hospice room and her bedside I experience that same embodiment of release again. It’s not something I have to recall in my thought, it’s something I re-experience in my body. That’s the difference.

The session earlier was exactly what I needed for today, and that gave me joy. I was happy and glad that I had chosen to attend, but I experienced joy from the release of feeling heavy and stuck. I didn’t just feel happy, I was joyful.

I suppose being joyful in the wake of feeling burdened and grieving is so important because it signifies there is hope for continued better times. When I felt that release of spiritual baggage at my mother’s bedside, I had gained hope that life would go on, that I was not stuck at that place on the journey. When I have happiness, I don’ t have that clarity, and the feelings of sorrow and unhappiness eventually return.

It may be that more joy edges out more grief and sorrow. I had sorrow that I lost my job, that my mother died, that my last dog had to be euthanized. The grief was living in m y body, however, and that just fed the sorrow. I did not feel as though anything would be really be alright ever again. I stopped crying over those incidents fairly quickly after a few weeks, but I had no hope that I would soon be “recovered”.

When I am grieving, I am waiting for release, waiting for something I cannot even visualize, waiting for relief. I do not feel as though everything is going to be OK, I do not feel as though I will ever be the same, I do not feel as though I will ever have happiness, much less joy. Sorrow appears to pass, but grief seems to pull up a chair and put its feet up. It gets very comfortable, and hunkers down for the long haul.

If I’m not open to the unexpected, to what might interrupt the grief train, I’m going to be stuck there. It’s not a good place to be, there’s no light and the darkness shades everything. It’s hard to shine your light when there’s a shroud over the bulb.

Sometimes I have to consciously remember to be hopeful, but sometimes I am treated to reminders I didn’t expect. Those unexpected nudges can make the difference between making a permanent solution for a temporary problem, between washing away my own footsteps in the sand. I need to see those so that I remember where I came from, and that I didn’t start here.

There’s a wild fire not far from where I live today, on the mountain I can see from from here. It’s an iconic mountain, and the only one within at least 100 miles that can be seen with average eyesight in this area. It cannot be seen at night, but I know it’s there. It has an energy of its own, and thinking of a fire there makes me sad. The fire is close enough to bring some haze to our skies, so the air quality isn’t great. But, it is what it is and I just hope there’s no loss of life (human or animal).

Off to rewrite my resume’, or at leas rewrite the draft of the draft of the draft of the first draft. I hate rewriting things. I always think of more things to say then reverse my thought process and become convinced that I need fewer things to say. It will be OK. What’s for me is for me, but I just have to do the legwork. Unfortunately, I just want to take a nap.

Somewhere out there, there’s a light…keep heading toward it.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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