The Virtue Project: May - Work

May 17, 2011
There is a passage in Little Essays Toward Truth where Alestair Crowley talks about how the point is not just to learn the qabbalah, it is to learn the qabbalah so completely that it becomes part of everything, so that everywhere you look you see the connection between one thing and another. I think I am reaching that point with this project. Good. (I suppose.)

I had decided that May would be the month of Work. I took this on two levels; first, May marks my year and a day from graduation. I've been looking for a library-related job for a year and more, and while one is still not forthcoming, I refuse to give up. Second, work has always meant to me much more than the thing you get paid for; it is also The Work, that thing that is most important to you, your purpose in this world. I am not so confident as to imagine that I know what that is, but it clearly cannot be ignored. I am trying to figure out what I can do for it.

And then, because I was discouraged at having received three job rejections in quick succession, and because they asked, I volunteered to take on some more hours at my current job to help cover the summer rush. I figured I could use the extra money, and it couldn't hurt anything. I was wrong. I was immediately shifted from 20 hours a week starting at ten in the morning to 40 hours a week starting at 6:30 or 7. (Add in a half an hour drive to get to work, and you begin to see my problem.) Oh, and swing shifts for the day I couldn't get in in the morning because I was volunteering: working until 10 PM and then back at seven the next morning.

I panicked. This was NOT OKAY. And after a week of utter anguish, I told the scheduler that I couldn't do it. I think that was one of the hardest things I'd ever done, telling someone I couldn't follow through on a promise I'd made. But I was rapidly reaching the point where calling in for mental health days would not be optional -- and that was after only a week. I used the D-word, told her that my depression was getting worse and I just couldn't cope, and she's pared my schedule back down to 9 AM start times and no more than 30 hours a week. That I can manage.

So due to no particular plans of my own, I have learned something about myself this month. I cannot work for forty hours a week in a call center. I lose all respect for myself and for the rest of humanity. And I cannot get up at five in the morning, no matter how early I go to bed the night before, and stay sane. In fact, I am happiest when I have a couple of hours in the morning to myself before going to work, so long a those hours aren't before sunrise. I may not always be able to convince my employers to give me that ideal schedule, but at least now I know what it is and can try.

And The Work? Right now, it is keeping myself sane and not giving up on all my other responsibilities while my schedule straightens itself out. My goals from the previous four months are slipping a little, and I never have managed to write every day. But I am still looking for that other job, and I have some ideas about working for myself, ideas that make my heart beat a little faster every time I turn them over in my mind. I am taking the long view, for now, largely because I can't do anything else. But I have managed to carve out enough space in my life to allow for regular glimpses of that long view, and that means a great deal.