I’ll admit it. I’m getting older. An old soul, a young spirit, an aging body. I’m content to have it so. As I often say, living beats the alternative.

 But I’ve seen some signs that are part of the constant surprise that is “geez, I never thought what was true of my elders would be true of me”: an increasing fondness of routine. An aversion to disruption. And the uncontrollable distress that comes when things go wrong in horrifying combination.

 

This past week was marked by repeated, unresolved car troubles that robbed me of my restorative weekend at the river. And by the knowledge that bad things were in the wind at work. I found this combination creeping into my thoughts at all hours, stealing my sleep, digging at my insides. And then Monday came.

 

Each of us waited for the footsteps to pause behind us; the voice that would summon us with a somber “I need to talk to you.” It was like waiting for a Mafia hit that you knew was coming—you just didn’t know where. The doctor’s return to the room with the world-shaking, “I’m afraid it’s not good news.” Losing one’s job is an awful, soul-tearing experience. And it’s one that’s still too fresh in my memory.

 

I wasn’t one of the folks who was asked to leave, although six wonderful people weren’t so fortunate. These tearful good-byes from people who have given everything—their time, their dedication, their tireless labor—to a company, only to have the rug pulled out…it borders on the criminal. And what’s left for the rest of us is a combination of black-hole loss, despair and a touch of guilty gratitude that it didn’t happen to us. This time.

One of the things that was most difficult for me personally was an inward-thing: the tunnel-vision effect I remember only too well from my bout with unemployment six months ago. The robbing of the pleasures of the soul. The refuge of Nature that all but vanishes. The one place I could reliably turn to for joy and peace held none of those qualities. I might as well have been spending my days in a windowless concrete room.

 

Nature is not a comfort I can offer those who have lost their jobs. For them, only my heartfelt sympathy and support will speak to that work-related betrayal of trust. And for myself, in this numbing aftermath of near-loss, I can only hope to climb back up our of the hole and find my soul again.

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