This is my unworking situation


I’ve had a few friends ask this week how I’m feeling about not having a job. The truth is I’m not entirely sure. I shed the time-suckage of my paid employment, but I’m not unemployed. I think I feel freer. But maybe too free? How do I learn how to walk around this space?

On Monday, day-freaking-one of this opportunity for creativity and relaxation, I felt internal pressure to be focused and productive. My brain started fabricating stress to fill the void left by my former employer. What if this was a mistake? What if I’m wasting unrecoverable career time? I’m not even sure I enjoy what I think I enjoy. There’s so much reading to catch up on. I should be submitting more poems. I should — I should — I should —

I should nothing. I should allow my body to rest when my son wakes me up too many times in the night. I should put down books that I don’t enjoy and block my distracting phone apps. I should look up at the sky and stop to listen to magpies in the bare trees. I should let tea linger on my tongue and soak in the tactile pleasure of a fine china cup.

This week, I worked on a single poem. I journalled. I sat down at my loom and wove. I drafted a blog post that turned out to be too unruly to publish now, but the idea is still worth exploring. I had a video chat with a friend. I watched an episode of Bridgerton. It’s been a good week.

Next week, I might learn to play a new video game. I might go for more walks. I might stare out my front window at the very little that happens in the cul-de-sac. I might talk myself down from feeling guilty about the privilege of this opportunity. I might remind myself that comparison is counterproductive. I might sit down and pick at one or both of my writing projects. I might finish that unruly blog post. I might explore musicians I’ve never listened or find an art gallery to tour online. I might analyze a poem.

Or I might do none of those things. Whatever I do, I’m allowed to call it enough. I’m allowed to feel nothing at all.

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