Okay, this title maybe got your attention. I hope you’re picturing the same thing I am with a red-skinned demon with pointy horns and a pitchfork and with his favorite beer, Corona, because no one actually likes Corona and now that this virus is passing, people will have flashbacks to this time any time they order it, and get jittery as they should because they’re drinking a shitty beer and they should be ashamed of themselves.
All joking aside, though, I have been feeling a pull to blog again. It’s really hard to keep on top of a blogging schedule when you have mental illness even when it’s what you want to do and it’s something you’re passionate about. However, mental illness also says that my words don’t count even though I know it doesn’t matter how many people read this as long as I get the words out. Like, it’s a duplicitous nature where you both know and understand the reality of the situation but also still don’t want to do the thing because you have no more spoons to do so.
Needless to say I have reached a new level of low, guys. It was before this virus stuff even started affecting my life. I don’t know what happened there. Maybe the new birth control? Maybe the promise of vacation? Maybe… who knows?
Regardless I found myself in my natural habitat of beating my head against a wall repeatedly. I was drawing the same cards again. I was getting the same dreams. I knew there was a message but I couldn’t get what and even if I did get the message, it became buried under the weight of a depression I have not yet known the likes of in perhaps over 12 years.
I know mostly what caused it, I think. In doing my tarot readings, I kept drawing The Devil.
Now, The Devil in this situation I can’t help but make it mean materialism. So here I am considering all the ways I could possibly be materialistic. I stopped buying new clothes a long time ago. I have lived on a more minimalist mindset for a bit, I thought. Things really don’t hold much weight in my life. Or, at least I thought they didn’t.
You see, at the same time I was deciding all this I was having the worst time in my job. I am not an office person. I don’t really understand anyone who is. I am very much a Lokean and froth at the mouth at the thought of doing the same damn thing over and over until I die. I don’t like the thought of being stuck under florescent lights inside a cubicle for the rest of my adult life until I inevitably retire (unless, I fucking don’t because my generation won’t get to do that unless we’re planning like, now).
I came into this job from working food service for about four years. I climbed my way to the top and was very proud to be a manager of a Chick-Fil-a. Politics aside (don’t hate me, I swear I am never buying from them again), my coworkers were an eclectic group of people who have become my lifelong friends and family. They range from pagans to LGBTQ to atheists to Christians to any walk of life. The way in which I was taught leadership in the beginning was inspiring. When I started working there, I had no purpose and was taking a break from school after a very terrible first two years at university. Chick-Fil-a gave me a renewed sense of hope and something to strive toward. I got out of my shell and learned that I really do love teaching and being with other human beings. My confidence blossomed under the care of my leaders and I am forever grateful to them despite the politics of it all.
The downside? They did not pay me enough. So, when an opportunity arose to make double the amount of money per hour as I did at Chick-Fil-a for less work, of course I took it. I was a poor college student. Money was scarce. I didn’t know what I was doing with my life yet again. All I knew was I needed money. So like a starving artist, I ate it up.
Then, I graduated. I started working there full time and each day a little piece of my soul was chipped away. I couldn’t care less for the bureaucracy of the government. The drama of my coworkers killed me on the inside because of how small their lives were. They went nearly ten years without a raise, no wonder they were unhappy people.
I got a promotion as the ladies began to retire and the work seemed to double despite their departure. I accepted, of course, thinking I was bored from one phase of this job, why not take on another? Maybe then I’ll have a bit of excitement.
However, that was the last thing I wanted. I saw myself becoming the woman who had the position I was taking on. She had no life outside of this work. She allowed government agencies to trample over her as the work piled on and on until that’s what she’s going to do until she retired.
I grew to hate it. I hated where I was. I hated my coworkers. I hated my boss who made it all this way. I hated the fact that I was trapped. I did it all for money and I have a degree that was practically useless so nowhere would ever pay me this much.
I realized one day I would take the pay cut. I would take the job insecurity as long as I didn’t have to become this woman I inherited it all from.
And suddenly, I realized what The Devil was all about. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that this life wasn’t going to make me happy. Just because I can suddenly afford shiny new toys like a phone, a new car, and an apartment didn’t mean I was going to be happy. I thought in those moments of my worst bouts of depression that if this is what the adult life was supposed to be, then I saw very little purpose in living for it. For brief moments I considered that killing myself was probably going to be much better than having to deal with the reality of having a pointless degree in an economy that really couldn’t give two shits for a college graduate with a passion.
So I wrote out my two weeks. I submitted them. And then I waited. Long hours of that day passed me by and my boss invited me to talk and so we did. She asked for me to stay. She asked what would make me happy. Instead of being angry about this whole situation, I found myself grateful. My boss wasn’t willing to throw me out after I did a shit job handling a bunch of contracts I wasn’t ready for. She seemed to be willing to negotiate and help me be happy, knowing this wasn’t the end all be all to my life.
So, fortunately, things cleared up and then… COVID-19 happened.
If I had left my job two weeks ago like I said I would, I would be up a creek. I knew somewhere in my intuition that things would have been a lot bumpier if I quit… and I’m glad I didn’t. Once again, I am grateful for stability. I am grateful I have a job to walk into. I am grateful for my paycheck while I still have it.
But even more so, this means change. It’s going to be really ugly. Things are going to turn upside down. Life on the other side of these moments isn’t going to look the same. However, due to this, the feeble strings that seemed to hold the illusion of this capitalistic world were beginning to snap away. It took a disruption of life as we know it to break down the mindless tasks that we do every day for some reason or another and gave a very merciless reminder of why we are even here in the first place.
The systems that don’t work anymore are beginning to realize that they don’t work. The people who are at the mercy of this disease are realizing that other people are necessary for their survival. It’s like we all took a moment to look up from our aimless lives and gave a huge shout of “oh!” and scrambled to make this work.
It’s not comfortable. I am deeply saddened by a lot of the things that are happening. I cannot attend my community’s Ostara ritual, my kindred’s very first sumbel was cancelled, the leaders of my community’s wedding was cancelled. The things that really held my life together in the dark times I was going through just… stopped.
So I did what I could. I went out in nature. I found new ways to be with my friends. I even lead my second blot with a smaller group in a more neutral space without sharing horns.
The things that really fucking matter is each other. Money won’t buy you everything. It won’t buy you happiness. To keep scrambling for the next greatest thing will assure you that your happiness will always be fleeting. This mindless scramble is an illusion to keep us occupied so we don’t care enough to make real change. And now, at the moment of a very real threat to our lives and the lives of others, we begin to see this even clearer as day.
So… I guess I should have seen this coming, really, but I didn’t because I was too focused on the shitty to make any ways for the real. Not to say I shouldn’t have gotten myself out of that situation, but what got me into that situation was the mad scramble for money, believing that having these things around me will bring me more joy than what I do 8.5 hours a day.
Anyway, folks. I guess what my takeaway from this whole event is that just because society says we ought to be living a certain way doesn’t mean that’s the only way we could ever possibly live. Success doesn’t mean owning a house, a car, the newest iPhone. It doesn’t mean having the best job with the best people. It doesn’t mean having the best spiritual practice, with all the cool things in the most aesthetically pleasing way. Success is a social construct. It is a feeble idea that our society has planted in you to say that certain things matter when they really don’t.
When I envision my life, I don’t see a big house, 2.5 kids, and a 9-5 office job. I see people who inspire me. I see sharing a meal with my community. I see people who are willing to look out for one another even when we don’t know each other. I see humans looking at each other like humans instead of just obstacles in the way of their shallow success.
To me, that’s what happiness is. There is no defined solution anymore, anyway. We don’t have a choice. What is on the other side of this virus is unlike anything any of us has ever known. Take these opportunities of quarantine to remember stillness and hope and love. I know I will.