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I’ve been turned down for another job. Sometimes, it’s hard not to take these sorts of things personal. Perseverance and pluck and other adjectives of determination may drive me, but it seems like there’s something that the universe — in the anthropomorphic sense — is trying to tell me. My life appears to be in suspended animation. I lack security and stability, I’ve moved five times in the last year and a half, I’m fending off this bill collector and that.

One book that I’ve read, something about marketing myself, told me to view every “No” as a “Not Yet.” However, when I look at the mounting bills, the possibility of homelessness, and other hallmarks of my situation, the lizard brain panics and locks up; It tells me to wallow in fear and self-pity. When I try to tell myself Not Yet, that almond-sized delight is quick to ask, “Then When?”

Indeed. When, Lord?! When the hell do I get to see the God damn sailboat?!

No matter how many times I upgrade my resume or re-invent my approach to cover letters or whatnot, the results turn out the same: 

We enjoyed learning more about your background and goals.  Although your background is impressive, we will not be moving forward with your candidacy at this time. Good luck in your career search.

To which I say…

What now, I wonder. What is next for your beloved blogging gonz? It seems apparent that traditional jobs that I’ve fallen back on are either not interested in me or willing to give me the hours that I need to barely scrape by. I have mounting debts and expenses. Challenges.

As I was giving myself the time to obsess over these problems, the old maxim came to mind:

When something bad happens, you have three choices. You can either let it define you, destroy you, or strengthen you.

I could give up; Drive towards the pit of despair, enter the house of pain, and sleep forever upon the bed of nails! It’s the easiest way to deal with it. It is the white flag. There is no strengthening in this sort of suffering. It yields no net results. No one wants to suffer, yet, it seems we’re pretty much caught in the negative mindset. It is so easy to debase myself and profess that I’m not damned good, that I deserve no goodness. I can wave that flag quite well.

I won’t. No.

In You Are Here, Thich Nhat Hanh advises that when we are faced with despair, anger, or anxiety that we should embrace it and talk to it as one would a child. By acknowledging its presence and treating it with love and compassion, we transcend dualism — good versus bad, or value judgement — and transform it into peace. “Dear one, I know you are there, and I am going to take care of you.” By rejecting duality and discrimination, we cease the fighting inside us. As he puts it:

You have struggled in the past, and perhaps you are still struggling; but is it necessary? No. Struggle is useless. Stop struggling.

Obviously, I’m swimming in khorwa — in doing the same things, I keep expecting different results. Either I’m not applying to the right places, I’m not communicating my qualifications adequately enough, or there is some other mysterious malady. Maybe the traditional job — working everyday, bartering my life for money and mortgaging my time for some far off retirement — isn’t for me. Maybe I need to go back to school or retrain myself or volunteer or sell blood, sperm, and tears. Maybe…

Breathing in, I acknowledge that I’m breathing in. Breathing out, I acknowledge that I’m breathing out.

That is all I know to do at this point.