I'm super paranoid about being jobless.
No, it's not the money - got enough to last a while.
No, it's not the boredom - nothing entertains me more than the lack of a job.
I think it's my mother's index finger wagging in my face, "At home? Again?"
And although I think - yeah, ma, even when I have a job, I'm at home. I'm a writer, remember?; I still feel real, real bad that I Don't Have A Job.
Now, the finger wagging and guilt is all in my head. (I don't think my mum's ever wagged her index finger at me. The guilt? That's a story for a whole other therapist session.) It's this damned society I tell you. It won't let the jobless be.
I have a friend (a freelancer like me) who, when I called him in the second week of January to ask how his New Year was going so far, said - "It's going really well. I haven't had a job since 2009 began." And he wasn't being sarcastic. He felt real joy at being jobless. Said it gave him more time for his Wii.
I think his general sense of ease with unemployment popped a lightbulb in my head. Dammit. Why the hell not? Isn't this what we all crave? Isn't this why we work so hard in the first place? Isn't this why Gandhi fought the good fight?
Ok...you get my drift.
Fortunately the battle between joblessness guilt and joblessness joy abates from time to time. That's when I enjoy marathon sessions of tv viewing: This week, I have learnt craploads about the Swi-Imean-H1N1 flu, I have wept over Hometown Baghdad, I have indulged in Seth Rogan's raunchy (but open hearted) humour. I found out that Beyonce's new single is no. 5 on VH1's countdown.
When the radiation from the television becomes too much I head for my books. I'm reading Ravipaar by Gulzaar. I read it aloud, proving to myself that I can read the devnagri script comfortably enough. Thank God it's a collection of short stories because after a while my throat gets parched and I need a break. Besides, I'm craving the radiation of a monitor again. So I switch on the computer.
Ah, what WAS my life before Facebook? Nothing but an empty, empty existence, devoid of any meaning. Never have I felt love the way I have felt it through my friends crammed into inch-high boxes, giving me the thumbs up sign every time my musings amuse them (if I tried to be half as witty in real life, I wouldn't get so much as a smirk). It's very affirming...in a distant mere-baap-ka-kya-jaata-hai kinda way...
I have also taken up Yoga. For real, no jokes. It helps a lot with the lower back pain (which I've been told is the seat of happiness and creativity, so if that's screwed, what else is left to live for?). Unfortunately, all my feelings of inadequacy get triggered during the meditation bits. My instructor (on the ipod) tells me to go deep within my body, to go deeper and deeper until I'm only focusing on my breathing and nothing else. Then after around 15 minutes, she tells me to come out of it gradually by reconnecting with the external sounds, 'the chirps of the birds' etc. Great. Except I never left. That jackhammer from the construction site outside? It makes going within a bit difficult. And that darn fly... Of course, I'll never still my thoughts enough to go within, I'm just not spiritual enough, I'm so useless at this, I'll never achieve inner peace...I could go on all day but I don't think that's what Swami Yogaratna had in mind.
I am also trying to expand my social circle. So, people I arrogantly ignored for a bunch of years are suddenly getting smileys in their facebook inbox. Long forgotten acquaintances are finding my number pop up on their cellphones. It's great to keep in touch. The only problem is they're all busy through the week, whereas I am Not.
At the end of it all, I think unemployment is a life-experience that can teach me a lot. It can teach me how to spend time with myself, not skirt around things that need to be looked at. It can help me clean my closets (literally and figuratively). It can bring in a lot of fun stuff - like new music, new flavours of ice-cream (that I'm otherwise too busy to try - coz when you're swamped, all you want is chocolate), new friends, new skills like making friends.
How can that be bad?