I’m finding it hard to be grateful these days.
There was a point in my unemployment struggle, right after moving to Olympia where a certain calm washed over me. I looked around at this new life I’d made in the middle of so much turmoil and I was shockingly grateful. Grateful for my beautiful new home, grateful for the love and support of Adam, grateful for my family, eternally grateful for my friends who supported me through all the crap, and mostly grateful for this life of mine. It was one big cheesy pile of grateful.
Sure, I had bad days. Like the one where I got the news that I’d been skipped over for TWO great jobs I had really wanted all in the same day. Lets be honest, that day, not so grateful. And yeah, making nearly nothing an hour could seriously tear at all that gratefulness when you sat down to try to pay bills, but still, through all the shit, more often than not I walked around feeling happy to be where I was. I took walks with my puppy and smiled for days. Waving to neighbors, grinning and saying weird crap out loud to my dog like, “Oly do you see this day? It’s AMAZING! Dog, do you realize how lucky we are to be alive? Glorious!” I was proud to show Adam what three straight hours of cleaning the house could produce, or wax on about how I found this beautiful new park, or spout nonsense for hours about some flower I took a picture of that afternoon.
The kicker, all that shit was back when I was JOBLESS. So how is it that now that I have a job, a job where ever so slowly I accumulate more hours, a job where I am slowly stealing away more responsibility, a job where I am even working towards things like MEDICAL BENEFITS, I am no where near as grateful as I was when I had nothing? I know there is a painfully obvious lesson tucked in here, BE GRATEFUL FOR WHAT YOU HAVE, so why can’t I seem to do it? Why is it that finally getting something resembling an income only turned on my ‘I’m fucking miserable’ light?
On a long walk with Oly on a chilly, but sunny fall day recently I forced myself to focus on all the things I currently love about my life, that particular walk landing very high on the list. I returned home feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, as if with practice I might once again be able to return to a land where I look for the good instead of focusing constantly on what I feel I am missing. Yet all it took was the sound of my morning alarm that next day to spiral my mood right back into that place of despair, anger, and resentment.
It’s as if the taste of something, a tiny taste of financial stability, a sip of regularity, a nibble of normalcy has reopened my eyes to the staggering distance I still have to climb to reclaim my life, my career, and my financial situation. Unemployment allowed me to forget, to put on hold, and mostly to accept stagnation because there simply was no other alternative. Just as the carriage horses of Central Park, I walked my course wearing blinders, conveniently blocking out everything in my peripheral, leaving only what lie directly in front of me. And I was surprisingly content to walk through life nearly blind.
The saddest thing? Some days I really miss those blinders.