I’ve learned a lot about myself during these years of underemployment. It’s safe to say that I’m a saner, more grateful person. Nothing like having the rug pulled out from underneath you—and surviving—to make you see how much you still have once you get up.
I lost a friend suddenly last week. A person that made my heart jump every time I saw him. A guy that was so interesting, smart, thoughtful and weird I was looking forward to even the briefest of conversations to come.
More importantly, his girlfriend lost her partner, and their children lost their father. I can’t begin to imagine their grief and pain but it’s certainly put my life and worries into perspective. A job, a title, a salary--who cares? Suddenly it all seems paltry.
Because I’m working from home I’ve been able to help this family a lot this week. Stupid stuff like buying underwear for a visiting sister, securing xanax for another. Mostly just listening. Hours of listening. It felt good to be useful, much better than working on the iphone app I’m designing. I feel grateful to have the time to be part of this grieving and, as silly as it sounds, I feel like I’m supposed to be here. I’m good at it.
Several times I stopped and thought about what I would have been able to offer if I’d been working full-time. Probably not much. Perhaps someone else would have bought the underwear or thought of the xanax. But I don’t think anyone would have noticed the family member crying in the corner last night. I rubbed her shoulders for awhile while she talked. After a bit she said “I feel much better. Thank you for noticing how upset I was.”
Hopefully, I’ll go back to meetings and deadlines soon but for the time being I’m doing work that feels just as important.