I didn’t choose a life outside the daily grind. It chose me when I got laid off a month ago.
It’s crazy to think how much has changed since the day I received that detrimental news. I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore and I questioned myself until I felt like I was looking at a stranger in the mirror.
Like an earthquake, my world shifted violently. Then the shaking stopped. Like someone just flipped a switch.
With the stillness came a clarity that surprised me. I decided the layoff wasn’t the end of the world. It was the beginning of a new one…a beautiful world.
I’ve become an outsider. Literally.
Back in my retail days, I used to love having the wacky schedule—screwing off when everyone else was singing the Monday Blues. It almost feels like you’re playing hooky when you’re a 9-5 outsider. The forest trails are empty, and so is your favorite cafe. The quiet seems so special and fragile, and you seize every opportunity to enjoy it.
In a way I was damn lucky to discover this unexpected freedom as summer is taking its rightful place. Had I lost my job in the damp, dreary winter, I imagine this sense of joie de vivre would be harder to find.
Truth be told, being inside an office all the time (no matter how cool they try to make it with afternoon beers and indoor basketball) doesn’t suit me.
It works for some people, so I’m not knocking it. But I prefer to change up my location, to be free. And it’s funny how being a part of the daily grind doesn’t really allow that kind of behavior.
Even the hip companies with “flexible” arrangements question you when you’re coming and going. You can be kicking ass, but still they wonder whether or not you’re really working hard enough when you take a walk outside to breathe for a minute.
I always want to be outside—it doesn’t matter where. The grimy nature of the city, with its concrete mountains and electric stars, inspires me with its energy. The pretty nature of the woods gets me too.
All this newfound awareness comes with its own hazards though. Yesterday I stopped on the trail to marvel at the gorgeous, bell-shaped flowers below. I didn’t realize they were poisonous when I was inhaling them and (she smacks her forehead) petting their sinister petals.
I found out when I was looking them up to properly name the image for this blog post. They’re called foxgloves. As lovely as they seem, they contain a bouquet of chemicals that affect the heart.
Don’t worry, I survived. It’s just another part of being an outsider—learning to navigate the perils of these exotic circumstances of my new life.
I’ve been unleashed, and despite the run-in with toxic flowers, it feels pretty amazing. As a writer, I couldn’t ask for better inspiration. I’m observing everything in a different light and it’s a lot like being born again.
Each morning I sit on my patio and listen to the birds, starting a new day of unknown possibilities with my trusty laptop, which is habitually covered in cat hair. At work I used to listen to ambient music with nature sounds to calm me down. Now I feel so privileged to savor the real deal.
The birds sing loud and clear, because there is less to compete with—less to fear.
I’ve been really connecting with birds lately. As an outsider of the daily grind, I feel like one of them. No, I’m not pretending to fly and breaking a leg in the process, or chirping in front of my neighbor’s window. I’m not that crazy…yet.
But there is less to compete with and less to fear, so each day I’m soaring in my own way.
I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch
He said to me, “you must not ask for so much”
And a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door
She cried to me, “hey, why not ask for more?”
Oh, like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free
– Leonard Cohen, Bird on the Wire