Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Emancipation…sometimes the door isn’t locked

Have you ever set out to solve a problem? And maybe you’ve asked for some sort of divine intervention (in keeping with your practice of faith)? And after a really long time start to wonder if the answer was “no” only to discover the answer was “yes” but with a totally different solution that used something at hand but in a new way so it was almost hidden?

A while back I wrote out a formal request to God about my work and income issue. Sometimes it’s useful writing out these things because seeing them on paper creates a measure of emotional distance and new things come to light just through the process.

This activity took on a life of its own from the start. In it I mentioned the things I was working on, and the status of my then current freelance work, which seemed to be on very shaky ground. The following morning the old outlet was gone (the venue is still operating just the part that a dozen or so of us played was discontinued).

Now try as you might, when you are looking for more stable income and part of the existing income goes away, the first thing to pop into your head is probably not going to be “gee what an interesting solution.” It wasn’t mine either; however I did allow that 1) I had at least not asked for help much later, and 2) that it might be part of a bigger solution picture – maybe.

But a new freelance venue has started coming onto the board gradually in the usual first waltz of these things, and we’re figuring out more dances we might do. There was even a sudden rally of postings for various kinds of part-time fill-in work for several weeks. But last week, while other transitional issues seemed to be settling down, it became irrefutable that finding an established job, even part-time minimum wage fill-work, was not a reality.

While re-reading my request late in the week, and wondering what it all meant, the notion popped up that maybe the writing and photography and arts were the solution. Of course the problem is that those things take time and capital to develop before they create income over investment; the capital the job was supposed to provide. But the strong impression was to dump stuff I didn’t need and convert it to capital and start working as hard on my stuff as I had been on trying to convince hapless HR-types to let me play on their field.

I know this makes no sense in the conventional business-as-usual world but for most of my life the path of convention has been denied to me. And then Havi Brooks at The Fluent Self wrote last Thursday in her Business Advice post: “The things that have helped me most in business are — weirdly — mostly the ones that seemed like really bad ideas at the time.” What could possibly seem more like a bad idea than to need income but deliberately stop looking for, applying for, writing resumes and cover letters for, and interviewing for the privilege of a few sheckles every other week.

But so far, through the job search process, I have been analyzed, checked-up on, ignored, insulted, and subjected to interview situations that would make the FBI blush. I think one telling question summed it all up: “Are you willing to forget everything you learned through your education?” (and this position required a bachelor’s degree) If this is how people are treated in the application process it can only mean that the treatment of employees is comparable – or worse; and no amount of money is worth being treated that disrespectfully. Thank you just the same but the idea of living in my car is a happier thought.

So it is scary and thrilling – and unfortunately they feel the same – to discover that the door that seemed barred was actually an illusion. Why did I have to go through that? Hard to say actually; maybe to test the drive, or increase the ability to take risks, or maybe for some reason that remains hidden for now.

Does your transition seem to have a blocked path or door? Are you sure it’s blocked? Looks can be deceiving. Until I started to consider that the door was not actually blocked and drafted an alternate plan, as though the door were open, did possible – workable – solutions start to appear. This is not about magic, the plan still has to be worked and clarified as more (better) information becomes available. This is about hope and possibility; and those two things are a big deal.

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For some reason Howard Beale's (Peter Finch) Mad as Hell speech in Network (1976) comes to mind.

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