Some things don’t need explaining, but there is a reason.
This is the third (and a half) blog site i have decided to do. The title of this blog (Overjobbed and Underworked) came out of a group of ideas i wanted to collaborate with folks on, podcast wise… i still aim to develop a podcast out of this as blogging, wonderful as it is, still carries limited capabilities for expression.
In a conversation, when asked what we do, the question usually refers to occupation or vocation- what one does in order to pay bills/rent/mortgage. In other words, “What do you do for a living?” the fact that many of us are conditioned to associate being able to put money towards a roof over our heads as ‘living’ has always troubled me. The fact that people look at working 50, 60 (or more) hours a week as a status symbol has always troubled me, particularly when evidence of the toll on one’s health and mental stability due to working that many hours is highly documented. The fact that people around the world don’t have the means of basic quality of life- and you have to work massive amounts of hours just to attain that- has always troubled me.
Having a job where you are not paid your worth (and the people at the top make triple the amount you do), where you are not able to make collective decisions about your own position; when you are at the mercy of management or supervisors; where your contributions or ideas are not valued; and you do it all just to be so tired at the end of the job’s day, you don’t feel like doing anything but watching television… This is not living. Living is not a person who just gave birth having to return back to their job, not being able to spend time and bond with their baby; living is not giving all your hours to the job where you have no days off. Living is not being in a space where you are not provided enough hours just so your place of employment can skip on providing insurance to employees… A JOB IS NOT LIVING. A job is a means to get the basic things you need, but it is not living.
Work and Job are two words that are deemed interchangeable in many cases. We are, again, conditioned to look at a job or career as a goal to attain, as opposed to a tool or tactic. Ever since i got my first ‘real’ job (as a mail room clerk and foot messenger at 16) i always looked at jobs as a way to experience life in various forms. i have done everything from working on a farm, art modelling, door to door canvassing, bicycle deliveries, concessions clerk, yoga instructor, floral arranger, telemarketing, cutlery and energy salesperson, stacking boxes in a truck, packing bottles in a warehouse, doughnut maker and fryer, babysitter, produce/bulk stocker (and occasional buyer), grocery stocker, cashier, outreach coordination (and more)… i have never desired to have a career in one thing my whole life. The longest i have had a a job consistently was 10 years; and honestly i may have still been working there, had the experience (particularly towards the end) not been traumatic. Obviously i realize (in the society i live in) having this number of jobs reduces many ‘serious’ prospects i have. People have also marveled at the range of experience, and wondered why i never continued, for instance, being a yoga teacher.
It’s because i have trouble equating work and job in the same sentence. Is that silly? To some people, i’m sure it is. Why would i want to depend on getting a paycheck from someone else when i could be making money on my own terms? Where is my entrepreneurial spirit? Frankly, i don’t have it. i don’t want to deal with a lot of overhead, lawyers, licenses, etc. i want to be able to do what i love without it eventually turning into a job. In terms of the yoga instruction (which i did for four years), i had a spiritual dilemma- it did not sit right with me that i was getting paid for something that is centuries old, and you can do for free.
And herein lies the work- work is something we do in our lives every day towards being a better, more compassionate person. ideally, we do not ‘clock out’ like a job when this work happens. But this is what happened to me. Despite having conversations toward creating Overjobbed and Underworked and looking forward to its creation, i sat on it, in the midst of the months of massive amounts of trauma and toxicity following me wherever i went. i entered a period of increasing depression, and creatively froze….
…And here we are. This blog you are reading right now came out of an extremely low period in my life. Not only was i isolated from people i loved (and in many cases organized with), but i also had my wallet taken, leaving me with no access to money or identification. The wallet being stolen in and of itself is not my biggest worry, honestly; Being stuck… Not being able to move on anything (where a lot of these things like identification are valued in the times we currently live in) is frustrating. Not being able to get money to eat or buy basic supplies is even more frustrating. i have been at this place many times in life before, where my faith was tested tremendously, and i thought more and more about not physically being here (i have written about these things before, in my Michael Jackson blog, The One Woman Apollo. Experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts is a very serious thing, so if possible PLEASE get some help, or speak to a loved one. You are NOT alone). Over the years (and during this ‘wallet’ situation) i have had some wonderful people in my life (strangers, acquaintances and friends) to guide me through these rough trials. Also, being a spiritual person i understand that there is something bigger than myself.
i still don’t have the wallet (or any of its contents), but i knew i had to reevaluate my life. Being back on the East Coast (after almost 20 years of being on the West Coast) has put a shock to my system. Being (again) isolated, being told you need to make 40% of an income of whatever rent you are paying; people and buildings being unrecognizable…. The vibrancy and sense of community i grew up around is gone, and it’s leaving people to be more and more reactionary. The newer residents isolate themselves, and call the police on cultural staples (ice cream trucks or drumming in the park).
i had to reevaluate my life. i returned in order to help my mother, but ended up needing help myself.
i started taking mental notes of the smaller things i found beautiful or significant, to make sense of all this trauma around me. i intended to write all of these things down in my other blog (Things I’ve been Knowing, which needs to seriously be updated), but i creatively froze. Coordinating my mother getting into a new house. Waving hello at babies and seeing them smile. Having five squirrels all get on their back legs to say ‘hello’ in the middle of winter. Comforting a woman whose brother died after an O.D. Seeing Pharoah Sanders, front row center. Meeting a woman whose car had pictures of cats all over it. Getting caught in a rainstorm on a hot, muggy day.
Things that may not have significance to others, but amidst chaos, they make things brighter.
This is the work. i may not have the ‘career’ i actually want right now- and i may not even get there in this life; if i do, that is wonderful, and i will take it for what it is- another aspect of my journey. What i do know is that i want to live a life where there is value in what i do, as opposed to me simply being a means to someone else’s profit margin. i want to be valued not by what kind of job i have, but what work i do.
There’s a reason for everything… i once again got to this low point to find the beauty in these smaller things. Did i always acknowledge the beauty in small things? Of course! When you are in the midst of the storm though (especially in the belly of the beast), it’s very difficult to get closer to it all. There’s much i have to be thankful for, and as words on a paper or screen have their limitations, adding a visual is one of the best ways i could express my feelings about these ‘smaller things’.
Thank you ‘smaller things’. And thank you for reading this blog.