image taken in Tanah Ratah, Malaysia, where it's eternally spring
For the past couple of weeks I've sat down at my computer several times to write a bitter, sarcastic and angry post about my unemployment status and frustrating job search. Because I've felt angry and bitter for much of the last couple of weeks. I've been disappointed and self-pitying. I've been a great big storm cloud, a giant Eeyore.
But here's the thing I realized. In 2009 I had six of the greatest months a human being could possibly have. Every second of my time in SE Asia, even the bad parts, collectively made up the most amazing months of my life thus far. In Bali I saw a hulking gray volcanoe rise from the greenest, lushest landscape I've ever laid eyes on. In Thailand I climbed limestone cliffs next to an emerald green sea. I saw Mt. Fuji outside of a plane window. I watched dolphins skim the surface of an ocean streaked with orange from the sunrise. I swam with Nemo fish in what is possibly the most beautiful place on earth, in water the color of which I have never seen, and probably never will see replicated anywhere else on Earth. I did these things. I saw these things. For six months this was my life. And so you know what, maybe it's only fair, maybe it's just the universe's way of balancing things out, that those six months be followed up by an average, unemployed, not so awesome six months.
Life can't be great all the time. Life can't be volcanos and monkey forests and tropical islands all the time. It just doesn't work that way. There are peaks. And there are vallies.
I realized all this the other day. I realized how spoiled I've been, how lucky. And honestly it's okay if the big things in my life aren't so great right now. I had great. Maybe for a while I just need to be content with average. And you know what's the awesome thing about life? Even when the big things aren't going well, even when our narratives falter and slip into the mundane, there are always little things. I guarantee each and everyone one of us has one perfect moment in every day, whether it's the first earthy sip of coffee in the morning or stepping into a hot shower or meeting a good friend for a glass of wine or just a new episode of a favorite television show. Even on bad days, days where we get professionally rejected or personally rejected or worse, we have that one perfect moment. And sometimes, we have lots of them. Sometimes our days are simply stuffed with them.
Today the world rose and stretched and yawned its way out of the deepest, coldest winter I can remember. Today, even though I'm unemployed and single and living with my parents, I had dozens of perfect moments, a plate of huevos rancheros at a favorite brunch spot with a best friend, a finally clean car after (ahem) years of letting it get progressively dirtier, a 45 minute run (yes that's long for me) in the warm air, pushing myself the whole time to run further, to go just one more block.
And maybe that's all I can ask for. Maybe that's all any of us can ask for. Every once in a while the big things are going to go wrong. That's just a fact. But the little things will never fail us.
And you want to know the other realization I had. I'm not alone in this. I think part of why the last few months have been so hard is that I've felt absolutely alone in what I've been going through. All of my friends are either in grad school or in jobs. And it's not like they are all living their dreams jobs, but at least all of them have something at the moment. And I've felt like the failure. Honestly I've been embarassed, more than anything that I've felt that's hurt, the embarassment and humiliation have been the worst. But part of the reason I've felt so humiliated is that feeling of being alone.
And today while running it just hit me. Maybe it's because the song I was listening to was talking about exactly what I'm going through. Maybe I just realized how completely idiotic I've been. How naive and foolish to think we are ever for a second alone in anything? In a world this big it is simply impossibly that what we are feeling is not being felt by at least one other person, much more likely by thousands of other people. I'm not the only recent graduate who is sitting at home every day applying for jobs. I'm not the only 24 year old living with her parents, feeling professionaly rejected, wondering if I can make a career out of what I love. I'm not even close to being the only one. It doesn't matter if I'm not sharing that experience with someone I know. All that matters is that other people are out there, feeling exactly what I'm feeling.
And isn't that the point of this whole crazy civilization thing, to share in the collective, often messy, often frustrating experience of living? We as humans are notoriously self-involved. We somehow let ourselves forget how massive the human experience is. It doesn't mean we're not unique. It simply means our experiences, whether tragey or triumph, aren't. And that's something to take comfort in.
And maybe this is all a little too philosophical for a Sunday afternoon. Or maybe it's simply that first giddy rush of spring flooding into my life. After the winter we've had it's a feeling that's especially acute. Something about the warm air makes us want to reevaluate, rethink. We want to literally and figuratively clean house.
Or maybe after a season of hibernating in the cold, we simply want to open our eyes to something beautiful.
also in Tanah Ratah, Malaysia