In These Times: To Be or Not To Be by Ebele Chizea

In These Times: To Be or Not To Be

by Ebele Chizea

Published on Tue, Jan 20 2009 by Ebele Chizea

New York City Job Loss Estimates Rises to 243,000 through 2010 said the headline of an article I stumbled upon a few days ago. What a heartwarming way to usher New Yorkers into the New Year! I thought. So now we have even more reason to fear, which I suppose was the intent behind the dim report. I don’t know much about economics, but I know that since the whole financial crises went down, you know, the one that had millionaires jumping in front of trains and forging new identities upon faking their deaths, thousands of people in the big apple have found their positions on the unemployment line. Joblessness once reserved for the bum and the “lazies,” is now everyone’s either business or concern.

This issue has even found its way into leisure circles. Last night, while at a poetry caf�, a well respected poet, with jerky movements in front of the mic and a glass of wine in her hand announced that she had just gotten laid off before proceeding to read her poem. There wasn’t much of a gasp from the audience as we focused on listening to the poem, which ended up being completely unrelated to her declaration.

Life does go on though after one gets laid off. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t observed this with my own two eyes; the fact that I and many other people woke up the next day and did what we had to do for that day and the many ones after it, is proof that it goes on. For some people it’s as profound as making life altering decisions along the way. When one is doing a 9 to 5 job, there is little time to ponder and discover if you are living in harmony or in opposition to your life’s purpose and/or passion. For many workers it is about going home with a paycheck every couple of weeks to ensure that the bills are paid and your behind is fed. In those moments one is convinced that it is the job that keeps them alive, and subconsciously, can even get to the point were they attribute their survival to the boss that keeps them employed. A job loss is what may be needed to snap people out of this monotonous existence and give them the courage to pursue a dream deferred.

I watched a television program where four individuals who had gotten laid off shared their stories on how it changed their lives. One of them decided to finally pursue a graduate degree, which she had postponed for years due to having a job, another decided to follow her passion for cooking by enrolling in a culinary institution; the third decided to focus most of his energies on his home business, while the fourth decided that going from a paralegal to working for a coffee shop was more fulfilling to him than money. All four were convinced that their experience was a success story.

Loss of any kind has a way of allowing a person to go deep within them to discover strengths, wisdom, talents, etc, that they were previously unaware of. This has been the case for me. There was a time I would wake up in the morning worrying about a future that doesn’t exist (as opposed to enjoying the certainity of now) and wallowing in self pity, which only left me a burden to myself and to others. The fact that homelessness in my city has more than doubled and that soup kitchens are struggling to keep up with demands makes me even more grateful for everything.

Among many things, I still have a mind, a will and wealth of peace and joy within that a thousand recessions cannot take away. At the crossroad between fear and love one chooses a path and keeps going.


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