“There’s something I need to tell you,” I said, pushing those reluctant words off the tip of my tongue. My boss looked at me knowingly as his eyebrows and smile sank in unison. “I’ve found another job.” He paused. “Ok, well, I wish you all the best. Thank you for all that you’ve done here,” he stated flatly. No tears. No cheesy music under wise parting words. Just a simple handshake and that was that. A large chapter of my life closed in four sentences.
I’ve been contemplating this day for months now… ten months and six days to be exact, aka since the day I started. I’ve been dreaming of this day. I’d call it quits, whether another job was lined up or not. I’d use my not-so-hard-earned savings – meager as they are – and start up a new life in or near NYC. I’d do whatever it took to get by – working in a coffee shop, busing tables, or strapping on some stilettos and pole-dancing the night away – just so I could be “really living” (I still don’t know what that means exactly).
This topic has raised some pretty heated discussions with friends, families, and even a homeless man (he insisted I keep my job). Their arguments always started with the same two words: what if. What if you can’t find another job? How will you pay your bills? What if you get into an accident and you break your neck and you don’t have insurance? What’s gonna happen then? What if the Chinese launch an attack on our homeland and take over the US and you’re stuck in a wheel chair with no control over your limbs and they capture you and use you as some motorized pawn in a human-sized game of chess? What if THAT happens? I bet you’ll wish you had kept your shitty job then.
As impulsive as I can seem, I realize that a couple of those scenarios are plausible concerns, but I refuse to let the “what if” mentality dictate my life. As a kid, I would see people in shitty jobs, hating a lot of their day and struggling to find joy when they could. I always wondered how they ended up there. I now understand. No one ever plans to end up there. But one compromise leads to another. And all of a sudden you find yourself under a fluorescent light by a coffee machine trying to convince someone that you really can’t believe how crazy this weather has been.
I believe there are two fundamental ways to view life: you either love life, or you fear it. Ok, that’s a bit extreme. I’m sure most people find themselves along some gradient between “love life” and “fear life.” Underneath it all, however, I feel you can look at life and all the uncertainty it holds, and try to barricade yourself in a little risk-proof underground shelter made of what-ifs. Or, you can accept life for what it is, a fucked up roller coaster of highs and lows and excitement and disappointment and success and mistakes and love and heartache, and make the most of each second. It's funny, I feel the fear-based perspective creates the illusion of safety, but ends up sweeping people away. As unpredictable as the second way can be, it seems to me those that let go of the reins seem to be the most in control. Enough of that philosophical, new-age jibba jabba. Back to my day.
After my anti-climatic chat with my boss, I trotted down to the lower deck of the garage and got in my bird-shit covered car, still feeling the anxiety crushing my chest. I turned on the radio, hoping for some musical reassurance. Drive by Incubus was on. I could not imagine a more fitting song for the moment. Life can be consoling sometimes I suppose, but only sometimes. (btw, if you have somehow avoided a radio for the past 15 years, check out the song here.)