Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Help: Here's how it's done.

About a week ago, I got an email from a guy that lost his job. He asked me to point him in the right direction to get him a job as soon as possible. In the email, he sounded really desperate. He’s my age, maybe a little younger. He’s been a therapist and a social worker for over twenty years. I met him when we were both social workers for the County. Both much younger, both of us holding a lot of promise for our futures.

I lost track of him over the years. I knew that he was working for a few social service agencies in the area and had a good deal of success. I always thought he was a gentle, smart, hardworking guy that deeply cared for people and their welfare.

So it stunned me when I got the message. I read it and read it again. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I felt cold all over. Budget cuts laid him off and he was drowning. I felt helpless.

I tried to contact him a couple of times but with no luck. I have tried to reach him through email and the phone. I worry about him. I hope that he can get employed with somebody soon. And I hope to hear, either from him or somebody else, that he’s OK.

It’s hard when you’re out of work. Actually, “hard” isn’t a big enough word. When you’re unemployed, you lose a part of who you are, that eight-hours-a-day, forty-hours-a-week part. That part of yourself that gets up in the morning, meets the day, and puts in an honest, hard days work to pay for your shelter, your food, your transportation, your healthcare, and your livelihood.

That’s the part of yourself you lose. And when that part is lost, it’s an earthquake.

I began to think of those I know that are unemployed. I know a woman with two children. She has multiple health problems. She has no money and is trying to take any job she can. I know one young man that has been out of work for six months and he looks for work every day. And the list seems endless.

I try to call these people as often as possible and let them know that I’m rooting for them. I tell them to meet me over a cup of coffee so I can listen to how they’re meeting their challenges. I try to be positive when I’m with them. They can use the company and they can use a little shot of hope.

There’s an old blues song entitled “Nobody knows you when you’re down and out.” Understand this sentiment and do the exact opposite. Get to know the people that have had a bad break and share some positive energy. Help them with a resume. Lend them some money for postage. Let them use your computer for a while to apply for jobs online.

But most of all, make sure that they know your love is without condition, whether they have a job or not. Make sure you let them know you love them, particularly when they’re “down and out.”

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Purpose is...what, exactly?

After going to the bookstore and browsing through the self help section, I have concluded that the self help word of the day is “Purpose.” A life with purpose, a purpose in your faith, lose weight with purpose and assorted other purpose filled books were hanging off the shelves.

I’m not sure what that word means anymore. The last time I was accused of doing something “on purpose” was when my little sister said that I overfed her goldfish “on purpose” so they would go quickly to the great fishbowl in the sky. I never really associated the word “purpose” for anything that good. And after reading through a few of those purpose driven texts I can confidently say that trying to remind yourself to do anything with “purpose” is absolute, utter nonsense. Here’s why:

A purpose filled life implies that you have a goal to achieving and meaning within the course of achievement. Guess what, kids? Sometimes, you lose sight of that goal and become engrossed in the meaning comes from being able to survive work, bills, and another day of worry.

And you know what? That’s enough “purpose” for all of us most days. And that’s just fine.

Living doesn’t have to rest on such ethereal heights. The good days that I’ve ever had are ones that are spent in the moment. The purpose of those days is to enjoy the way the sun hits the window, the way my shoes fit on my feet or the fact that my car starts the first time I turn the key.

My purpose for life today is living one day at a time, no matter what the days challenges may be. My purpose is that I know some of this life will recede from me and I will still meet each day hopeful that this day will be better than the last. That I remain positive in the face of upset, calm in the presence of upheaval.

Purpose. The word makes me squirm a little. I hear it and I feel that I’m failing something, fallings short in a part of my life I didn’t realize was supposed to be pursued or achieved or require meaning. I now hear the word “purpose” and I feel I’m not measuring up.

I am fine living the way I am. I find that I am content with who I am and how I’m living this life for today. Just today, I will try to make amends for the hurts I’ve offered, repair the injuries I have caused either willfully or by accident. I will focus as best I can on the positive in people and refrain judgment. I will complete as much work as I am able and then find time to enjoy some stillness of the evening. I will find one thing that makes me laugh and remember one thing that reminds me about love. And I will repeat this process as often as it comes to mind.

My purpose? To live each day, and only each day, as best I can, without too much concern of the future. I hope you find this your purpose, too.
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