The Big Boss pointed his finger at me. "You," he said, "my office," and turned, walking down the cubicle row to the back of the facility.
I followed him, walking in his wake, both of us in silence. I'd applied for a full time position within the office back in May. This was most likely the verdict. Hired. Not hired. Or perhaps I was being fired. It was definitely one of the three.
"This could be my execution," I said out loud. He didn't laugh. Neither did I. I meant it.
He pointed to a chair across from his desk. "Sit," he said. I sat.
"Looks like you're going to be working for me for two more years," he said and smiled.
Yep. Definitely my execution.
I quickly searched my brain for the correct response. I'd practiced this for weeks now, just in case they gave me the job. I'd gotten that expansive Yes feeling after the interview, so knew they'd hire me, but the pesky mind had added it's two cents in several hundred times since. But now the job offer was floating in the air between the boss and me, and an adequate response was expected.
I clapped my hands together and said, "Yay, what a relief, thank you, that's good news."
We exchanged a few more meaningless words, there was nothing important to discuss. It was a state job and the salary was fixed - $31K - as were the benefits, vacation, health, etc. And so I went back to my cubicle and back to work. Just because we had the following day off didn't mean the work load had lessened. It was why they hired me: I work like a machine, perpetual motion, on and on and on, sick, tired, crabby, work, work, motion, motion. They probably think it's work ethic, but it's really surrender, about saying Yes to every moment, stepping up to the plate again and again and again, climbing the steps to the gallows over and over and over so that Life can continue it's destruction of me.
A global office email was sent out announcing the new hire. Folks stopped by my cubicle to congratulate me, the very people that I've avoided the eight months I've worked there. I found a standard response and performed the motion over and over: thank you, yes, it's a relief. In the insanity that is the current economy, one hundred and thirty-two people had applied for the three jobs available. It was a big deal in their world - who got hired, who didn't. But mostly they stopped by my cubicle to talk about themselves, and so they did, and my required further input was reduced to simply sitting there until they ran out of egoic steam and walked away.
My immediate boss is in the cube next to me. He's the really intense guy in his late sixties that is just as likely to blast me as be kind. He brings me garlic and tomatoes from his garden, ignores my questions on how to solve the computer glitch problem for the man sitting in my cubicle who hasn't gotten any state cash for two months and who has four kids and a pregnant wife and is losing his trailer and car.
"Hey, big guy," I call over the cubicle wall, "looks like you're stuck with me for another couple of years."
He comes to my my side of the beige fabric wall and hugs me, tickles my back in that gentle way that always surprises me with how full of love it is. He reminds me that he's retiring in 18 months, that I'm most likely being groomed to take over his job. The very thought is horrifying. I hug him back.
At 5:02 pm I'm in my car, driving home, crying, just a little. I knew this was coming but still it feels shocking. My physical and energetic bodies fill with the sort of anguish that feels really, really big.
Another piece of me is dying. Another piece is being sliced off so that I can see that what I think is me isn't really me. I am not the job I do, not the money I make. The purpose of the job is to continue to dynamite the ego. There will be enough money to take care of what needs to be taken care of. I'm not the bachelor's or the master's degree I spent three non-stop excruciating years and 85K in debt to acquire, whose information and skill set and language are leaving me rapidly, day by day from lack of use.
Over the past six or so months, I performed a lot of actions, in order to give Life a wide selection of choices. And Life responded with all sorts of immediate support and assistance. A chance remark with a client provided me with a public health contact, a man high up in the PH world in the Raleigh-Durham area, a chance to talk with him several times on the phone, go to his office to meet with him, have him introduce me via email to several more PH folks, for informational interviews, contacts. While I was visiting him, he mentions that there is a conference taking place, and would I like to stop by and hear the lecture going on? Yes, I say, and as we sit down in the lecture hall, I see it's one of my old profs from SUNY Albany, and I spend a half hour talking with him after his lecture. From all parties I hear the same thing: the world of public health jobs is frozen solid right now, state government budgets slashed, grant funding shriveled, huge crops of new graduates all clamoring for the same few jobs.
For six months, I stayed in motion, sending out resumes, taking days off from cubicleland to drive three, four, five hours to interviews, each interview costing me ~$175 in lost wages and travel expenses. I had no real feelings either way about any of it, nothing that stuck longer than a half hour or so anyway. These were all the next steps, so I took them, whatever they cost is whatever they cost.
I got that Life would ultimately do as it would, but I also got that my job was to do as I felt. Some of it was simply to get the actions out of my system, to play all the notes, so that when the hammer came down the peanut gallery that lives in my mind could say: I tried everything. And I did. But in the end, I was turning down job interviews, four of them in the last two weeks, knowing what was coming, and completely surrendered to it, or at least mostly.
Staying here in Wilmington and accepting this job means that I expend no extra energy. Not in moving to a new a city, or starting a new job, getting to know new people, acclimating them to my rather unfriendly personality. I save the money it would take to move, money that I don't have. I can continue to do the holistic work that comes my way because of the rep I've established the past couple of years, and earn enough money to close the gap between my ridiculous bills and my paltry state wage. Because the important thing is that I have a white hot burning laser turned on my ego, my self. The perimeters have been identified. And although I slip every day, blow it in a hundred different ways, fail and fail and fail, sometimes I succeed, and another piece of dead, grey self falls into the dirt, and that Yes thing inside of me, whatever it is, gets a little bit easier to recognize as Who I Am.
That's the whole point. Surrender. Trusting Life. Going with what is occurring.
As I write this, Baby Wallace sleeps in the barcalounger, the sun turning him into the tiny sweet fierce fire puma he is. Birds make wild music outside the open window. Jacinta is safe and snug in the laundry closet, her belly full from the breakfast I just served her "in bed". My head is clear from the massive amounts of digestive enzymes I've been taking. The three day holiday weekend stretches before me, no work scheduled beyond errands, and even they feel more like dance moves than Must Do. The decaf coffee in my mug is full of both sweetness and umami, from the stevia and the vanilla almond milk. Hoochie, the backyard dog, just pounced on a squirrel, killed it with a shake of her head, then walked away to do the next thing.
And all is well, exactly as it should be.
Life is so very good. Right now. Right here. I could die anytime today, or tomorrow, and that's good too.
Something happens when you begin to release the tiller on your own life. The situations don't really change. Prosperity and soulmates and permanent never ending flows of comfort and happiness don't appear and set down roots. But the need for prosperity and soulmates and happiness begins to leave you, because they aren't real, like letting go of the easter bunny or santa or god. And it's good. The horrors you spent your whole life avoiding surround you, but instead of ghouls they are simply old acquaintances. They're kinda irritating at times, but on the whole, fine, just part of the background, the background that is fading.
In the next few weeks I'll get new glasses, go to the chiropractor, the gynecologist, an endocrinologist. I'll settle in to having a regular paycheck, map out a new scenario for bill paying. Waking up doesn't mean the action stops, the flow of motion ceases. It just means it becomes clearer what to do, what can be let go of, what needs to be attended to. As I began this latest deepening of tiller-releasing I set a broad intention: to free up as much energy as possible for awakening, how it happens is of no consequence, just free up energy for the burning, the letting go, the surrendering. And this job, because of it's health and time off benefits, because of the fact that I don't care about it in that attached way one does to A Career, how I in fact hate it, would fling it from me like a flea-infested coat if the opportunity presented it, is perfect.
I'm curious as to what Life has next for the chopping block. I search around for what I still care about, what I still believe in. Then I shrug. I'll know soon enough by the screaming and the Nooooooooo and the wailing and the gnashing of the teeth in my head. Or maybe not. Maybe the next phase is a little quieter. I doubt it. But who knows?