A few weeks ago I had the misfortune of being laid off of work. I wasn’t as surprised by it as I could have been, I guess. I had already survived three prior layoffs in my department so it wasn’t as if I didn’t know the department was shrinking. But I couldn’t find work anywhere else. And then the fated day came where it was my name on the little red list.
Then the real challenges started. My wife, who was eight weeks pregnant at the time I got laid off, was placed on flat bed rest. I had to carry her to the restroom and basically take over all the household work, including the care of my two year old son. Those were emotional, trying weeks wherein the crucible of difficult times smelted and attempted to refine me. I say “attempted” because the tiredness and exhaustion that seeped into my bones made what little patience I possessed leak out of my ears. I became a grumpy, stressed out man. I was already emotional and guilty about having put my family in a position where we had no more income and now no longer had the capacity either to find work or do much more during the days outside of take care of my wife and son.
Yet during this time I can attest that the crucible did do its job. I gained a greater appreciation for those who must pass through periods of unemployment and depression due to not having work. I understand better now what it is like to not know if you’re going to be able to make ends meet. I understand better now how to take care of my family and I gained a greater appreciation for what my wife has to go through on a day to day basis while I am at work. And, most of all, I discovered the two things that keep me sane are reading and writing, even though I was not able to do much of either until recently.
Reading helped me to escape from the challenges that were going on around me and recharge my inner battery. Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter books kept me diverted and entertained during the few moments that I could slip them in. Brandon Sanderson’s YA novel, The Rithmatist kept me level-headed and raised my spirits – even after the fifth time reading it. And what was more, the emotions were coursing through me I was able to channel into what little writing I could squeeze in. The hiatus in writing also gave me new perspective and the chance to go back and look at aspects of both myself and the way I write in a different and illuminating light.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that life’s challenges are there for a reason. They help us to realize who we are as individuals and what matters most in our lives. For me, it wasn’t the job that mattered at all, but my family and my writing, which has become an outlet for the way I look at life. Reading, writing and my family are food for my soul, a feast of which I partake as often as I can. My wife, while still struggling, is doing better now. Choices and decisions have been made that will take us to a new state and, hopefully, a better place for us. Life, as always and despite the bumps and potholes that come along, rolls ever onward. And even though sometimes we can’t see it through the flames, it is always moving forward too.