In Between the Transport, There’s Kindness
I had a friend, a while back, named Linda. She was a lesbian on whom I had a wicked crush, and while she chuckled often at that – as in dream on – we hung out together every week. This must have been back in the mid-nineties. We talked about all kinds of things, and one week – after I had rambled about feeling ‘stuck’ in my whole life – she brought me an essay on a single sheet of paper titled “In Between”. I think I still have it somewhere, it was magnet-ed up on my different refrigerators in different apartments over the years.
The gist of the essay was that we – people – find ourselves sometimes in what might be considered “in between” places. Life spaces. Between relationships. Between job and career changes. Between moves, apartments, houses, groups – you name it. And quite often the predictable reaction to finding oneself in such an in between space is stress. Some degree of anxiety, the not knowing. It might be heightened by practical physical needs like money and sustenance, comfort, a place to live, a car to drive, money to do stuff or help a child, or a parent. Or terrible loneliness. A lack of something. And the point, the real gist of that essay? Being in between does not have to be a stressful place. No. In fact, being in between may offer a breath of fresh air, an opportunity in fact – a slowing, possibly a meandering, to consider, to reflect, to dream big and loud and in vibrant colors, to reconnoiter. It just might be a gift, this thing which feels uncomfortable, even scary.
The essay helped.
I would like to think I have been in between jobs these last nearly eight years. Back there in the spring of 2011 a phone call from a friend, an encouragement to always remember that life was filled with abundance, a coffee shop math class with my wife, all calculators and scratch paper, numbers both incoming and necessarily outgoing, the agreement that I could do my share and live up to my partnership marriage part and keep this head just above water – all those events had me give a two-month notice to a job I was at that point truly not liking, and decide to live solely on a meager monthly reimbursement from the department of Social Security. And, well, reconnoiter. I left work in May, I think it was either the 7th or 11th, maybe the 12th, of 2011. I started work again last Friday.
It’s a long time to be in between, and I say with all certainty and honesty and gratitude that in my case I have reflected upon much, dreamed big and even bigger, looked at life in vibrant colors, reconnoited here and there, and taken in huge gulps of fresh air, taking chances and being a little less afraid, all the while pretty much living from month to month – as in paying the bills. My life changed spectacularly, dramatically, and wicked wonderfully for the better. I even started getting up earlier.
My son not receiving adequate help for a service he requested, like six or seven months ago, caused me to consider applying for that very same service position when it became open, and when that position evaporated, well, by then, I had made up my mind to come back to the world of human services with the human part out front in big, big letters and, as we like to say when we get all clinical and everything, actually get shit done. Now it came as no surprise that 95% of the resumes I sent though the electric mail and applications completed on line, a few done in pen and physically handed in, that these resulted in silence. You, who have a resume looking like a twisted game of Candyland mixed with methedrined hop scotch, you who have not worked in nearly eight years, You do not exist. Frankly it was way more surprising that five percent in fact did acknowledge my existence – I send resume, therefore I am. Some of these people interviewed me on the phone, some had me dress up and come in, some even brought me back for a second time. None, though, offered me work.
I went to one interview, however, dressed in jeans and a pullover sweatshirt – my kind of interview for sure, both as interviewee and interviewer – and it was from that conversation I was offered a job. The job I began last Friday.
What is it? Who is it with? Does it matter?
I now reside, vocationally, somewhere near the bottom of the food chain (in the hierarchy of jobs), having on many occasions previous over those last decades reigned at the top, and accept pay at a rate not seen on a payday of mine since somewhere back in the early 80s. And I feel absolutely blessed and cared for, maybe even thrilled, having been given the wondrous opportunity to directly help fellow human beings, just possibly providing a doorway or avenue for a life to get a little bigger, a little better, the trickling in of hope. To get good shit done.
The other morning, on my second day of work, I sat in a medical office waiting room – waiting on the person I had transported there – for hours, mostly staring out the window – an activity not to be found on my dusted-off resume but one in which I excel. At some point I began thinking about kindness. The power of, the trans-formative elixir that comes from and through an act of kindness. My new job, which is part-time, low-paying, jeans-allowed wearing, provided – gifted me the space in which to consider and ponder kindness. And I was filled, just for a minute, with the certainty that kindness was and is the answer. For all of our problems. Most definitely. If there came a day when every member of the species homo sapiens awoke and vowed to be kind every moment of that waking day. And that’s what they did. Then, like the song says, everything gonna be alright.
I got to think about and actually practice kindness at work Monday. And again Tuesday. Now that I am not quite so in between.
I’m off today – writing this.