“In my own worst seasons I’ve come back from the colorless world of despair by forcing myself to look hard, for a long time, at a single glorious thing: a flame of red geranium outside my bedroom window. And then another: my daughter in a yellow dress. And another: the perfect outline of a full, dark sphere behind the crescent moon. Until I learned to be in love with my life again. Like a stroke victim retraining new parts of the brain to grasp lost skills, I have taught myself joy, over and over again”(15).
— High Tide in Tucson, by Barbara Kingsolver
Last night as I lay in bed reading the book High Tide in Tucson by my favorite author Barbara Kingsolver, I came across this passage. I stopped. Reread it, slower this time. This concept, of forcing yourself to stop and find beauty in small things around you at times when the world seems to be crumbling is exactly how I managed to get through unemployment. I fought against my unemployment so desperately in the beginning, digging myself deeper and deeper into a true state of hopelessness. Only when I forced myself to find one positive thing in each day did things begin to turn around.
I started with small things, writing them in my diary, “If I wasn’t unemployed I wouldn’t be able to sit here and read a book next to the fire… If I wasn’t unemployed I wouldn’t have moved to Olympia with Adam, and we wouldn’t have this beautiful home… If I wasn’t unemployed I wouldn’t be able to spend this quality time with Oly while she’s young and impressionable… If I wasn’t unemployed I wouldn’t have the chance to build this garden…” Each day I found a new one, forcing myself to look hard, even on days when I felt the task of finding one good thing about my life would be impossible.
Before I knew it the little things began to grow into entire days of happiness. Tears were replaced with smirks, and then eventually actual smiles. More than anything I was finally feeling happy. It wasn’t perfect, I still had bad days, but overall the gloom was beginning to subside. I didn’t have a job, and I was still broke as hell, but I was finally beginning to feel better. Without the struggle of losing my job I don’t know if I would be capable of looking at my life the way I do today. I am sure some people who know me are baffled by my new outlook on life, and the things now that I find joy in probably seem strange to some. Sometimes I even feel the urge to make excuses for my feelings, justify the changes I’ve made. But I have to remind myself that would be no way to live a life.
It’s true, I’ve changed a lot since 2008, some of the changes surprise even me, but in the end, I’m so thankful for what I went through.