Saturday, February 11, 2012

Careful what you wish for

It was a beautiful sunny day. I was feeling restless and loath to spend it sitting still. As I powered up my computer at work, I thought, I wish I could be birding right now. Or working on my yard. Or just doing something different, something more active and challenging!

But as a friend of mine in the Army used to say, "And people in hell want ice water." We all have to do what we need to do, and I reminded myself that until I stop procrastinating about looking for a new job, I'm stuck with this one, so suck it up. And just to be clear about things, I don't consider myself a slacker. I actually like to work.

But this job is not challenging for either my body or my mind. Nor is it the kind of laid-back job where I can just come to work, do my eight hours, and forget about it as soon as I leave. It manages to be both boring and stressful. I have spent many hours of soul-searching to make myself practice a little gratitude until I can find something more suitable. I give myself little pep talks before sitting down at my desk. The one thing that makes it bearable was the fact that the majority of my co-workers are such awesome people.

Still, as I clicked on my electronic timecard, I couldn't help thinking, I wish I didn't have this job. You know the saying, "Be careful what you wish for?" Well, about an hour before the end of the work day on Tuesday, my boss called me down to his office. I knew something was up as soon as I saw the Human Resources gal sitting with him at the table.

"I really hate this part of my position," he said, trying to look appropriately solemn, "but I had to eliminate another position..."

I didn't even let him finish the sentence. I just couldn't contain the joy. "Thank you!" I yelled. "This is wonderful!" I got myself under control before I actually jumped up on the table and started doing a jig or any similar foolishness -- after all, I didn't want them congratulating each other on the Best Decision Ever -- and stated how after my original position was out-sourced six months ago and I was given a new one, I'd been very grateful to be given a new opportunity and had tried my best blah blah blah, but it just wasn't a great fit for me and I was relieved not to have to worry about it anymore and no hard feelings. I must admit I got some perverse glee out of stealing their thunder, too.

But overall, what I said was true. I do feel that ever since I was given my new position, I've been trying to squeeze my big square peg self into a misshapen round hole. It is a relief to be done with it. And any hard feelings are easily canceled out every time I start stewing about the latest stressful situation on my plate, only to remember, "It's someone else's problem now!"

So what does this have to do with birding? Well, in the short term, I'll have more time on my hands to bird. But it also means that I'll have to postpone my Ultimate Birding Year to another time. Luckily except for gas for birding trips and my love of gourmet food, I live a fairly frugal life, so as long as I stay put and eat cheap until I find something else, I'm not freaking out about the unemployment. This is why I don't buy new cars or McMansions!

Even more than that, it has made me start thinking about "birding" as an attitude, an expression of life, a unique discipline, a moving meditation. I want more "birding" in my life. I know that no one's going to pay me to go on a nature hike, but in a metaphorical sense, I want to bring "birding" into my next position.

Yesterday, I went on a very long walk. The sun was shining and the light glistened over the inlet of Clinton Lake that the trail snakes around. There were common mergansers and northern shovelers, both new birds for the year in De Witt county for me. The ring-billed gulls were making such a racket, if I closed my eyes and lifted my head towards the sun, I could almost imagine myself on a beach somewhere, in the summer. A Carolina wren scuttled across a log and then dropped out of sight. Woodpeckers yarked at each other and hammered on the trees. Everywhere were alarmed chickadees and scurrying nuthatches.

It's true, nobody can possibly be that happy all the time. Pretty soon I'd better find a new job and on sunny days, I'll wish I could be out birding. But in the meantime, I made the wish...and I don't take it back.


  1. Sometimes a position is so stressful or hurtful or miserable, that it's just a relief, a great, big relief, when it's over and gone! I'm trying to work on gratitude for all that I have, and not whine and moan about work and a tight budget, but it can be very hard to keep that small bird singing in my heart. Hope your next job makes it easier to hear the birds! Mom

    1. I don't just want a small bird singing in my heart. I'm more of a Screaming Piha type!