Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Impermanence of Things

              First I truly wish I could spell before I have coffee in the morning.

I started thinking about the concept of anicca or impermanence. This all started because my leg was hurting Friday morning and I started thinking about the Buddhist concept of suffering. Sometimes, I get quite literal in the concept of suffering. I hurt - from bad joints and bad legs - and that causes me to feel badly from the pain. Hence, I think - is this what suffering is about? I know that the term suffering is really more complex than waking up with achey joints and in a funny way, by thinking like that, I try to go past the leg pain. So for a brief moment, I recognize suffering, I acknowledge it and then I try to go past it. Practical buddhism for me. (Before you think how enlightened I am - I generally just get whiney about the pain and feel sorry for myself.)
All this led me to think about how pain stops so it's not continous - at least in my joints. So then I thought - aha- pain and suffering is impermanent and so can be overcome. This thought started me thinking about how much in our life is impermanent (actually everything I can think of is impermanent).

So when I got to the printmaking studio and was walking down the loading dock to the door, I noticed this rust stain running down below a crack in the concrete. I thought how beautiful impermanent things can sometimes be and decided to take some photos of it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Thoughts on Having Free Time

Since the 5th of July I began living a life of reduced means - a very polite way of saying I have no job.  This was fairly new to me.  The last time I had no employment was slightly over 20 years ago.  It was a jolt.  I spent the first few weeks, sleeping, laying around looking at bad TV (we have no cable which means it's really awful during the day except for PBS and the weather channel) and feeling like I was totally worthless.  Anger issues also became the norm and I tended to play quite a lot of video games.  So after week one, I went and applied (online) for unemployment and began that round of total chaos.  Since Austin faced weather that was dry and over 100 degrees everyday, I was less inclined to go out for any reason. 

After the second week, which I spent trying to understand what the Workforce group expected of me (and that's a simple sounding prospect - not) I started applying online.  Surely, as everyone at work told me before I left, I was a valuable employee with much to offer - I could get a job easy.  The unemployment people told me I would get a job because Rick Perry had created so many wonderful jobs for us "dislocated" workers,  And while officially I was  to do a minimum  of 5 job related searches a week, in reality they expected me to do 5-10 a day.  Ummm, okay.   I spent hours rewriting my resume - making sure I didn't leave my customary grammar accidents, mispelled words and archaic sentence arrangement in places where people champing at the bit to hire me could see.  I realised that hiring practises had changed and to get consideration for an entry level job, I had to write resumes, applications and cover letters selling myself.  I hadn't realised how much you have to pimp yourself for a job these days.  After all, when I got hired the first time at the University the big question that was asked was "Do you know the alphabet..." Now I get asked deep probing behavorial for instances...... "how would you handle an irate student who thought you had cheated him out of a seat in a class..."  But I'm digressing (send me an e-mail for more horror stories on the modern job search....) Suffice it to say that out of the 70 odd applications I sent out (including a number at the University - I failed to get any interview)  I was totally unwanted.  How could anyone not want to hire a gimpy, overweight 59 year old woman. They had no clue what an amazing person they were missing....

So I have the daily chore of looking for jobs which gave me structure but wasn't particularly rewarding emotionally.  I did start reading the giant mound of books I had bought and never got around to reading. 

But then I realised that three things could occur to jar me out of couch potatoism.  One, I could start doing art and use up the vast quantities of supplies I had laid in waiting.  and Two I could open up the ETSY account I had been avoiding (fear of taxes) for over a year.  The third thing and possibly the hardest was to keep in contact with people not family(i.e.  not just Gene, Hal and Paul.)

So I pulled out the tubes of paint, pencils and canvas and began working.  I felt a sense of satisfaction.  I signed up for a class on an Intro to Illustrator, Photoshop et al.  (Which is truly wonderful for the Neo-Luddite (more later) that I am).  I opened the ETSY account and for the month of August had 4 sales.  and a great deal of OCD trying to make it look good. 

In short, I find myself truly enjoying not working.  There are days when not having money starts pulling at  the Anxiety problem I deal with generally... but overall I have found contentment in not working.  So below I have listed my rules for peaceful co-existence with no cash. These are my rules but hopefully you can see the idea for yourself. 

1. It's okay to be depressed and angry but don't let it be your main thing you do.  Jerry Springer and Maury Povich are only good for less than a week - actually one day did it for me.
2. Read - everyone has something they have been meaning to read and never had time.  After you read it sell it to 1/2 price books, donate it or give it to a friend.
3. See someone outside of your normal people.  Send notes to ex-co-workers you tearfully said you'd keep in touch.  Use facebook and other forms of "social media" to recontact old friends you wished you hadn't lost. 
4. Get rid of things you were saving for later..... a task I call de- crowing.... You find things you always meant to do.  That scarf you were going to crochet.  The mandolin you were going to fix. (me and musical instruments are another story.) You find alot that you realise you don't want to do and can move them along. (Go to a friend who has cable and watch "Hoarders"  - I do and it never fails to make me throw something out or give away).
5. Do art, listen to music, garden or watch birds.  Now is your chance to pretend to be rich.
6.  Never refuse to make a little money on the side.  You suddenly find yourself doing odd things to get bits of money which is good. 
7. Find humor in everything you do.  Humor is the glue that makes it all easier.
8. Exercise so you don't get gimpier.
9. Always start the day with good coffee.