Posted by: joha5 | April 20, 2010

On The Road…Again.

Jack Kerouac famously said in his novel On The Road, “All the golden land’s ahead of you and all kinds of unforeseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you’re alive to see”.  Even though he was talking about a road trip, I also think it sounds a lot like being unemployed.     

Unemployment is certainly an adventure.  There is no routine, every single day is different, you never know what you will see, who you will meet, and where you will end up.  For me, this is truly a blessing in disguise.  I will admit that there are quite a few days where I yearn for stability – both financially and emotionally – and I wish I could just turn around pretend that this ‘trip’ never happened.  More often than not, however, I feel thankful that I knew when to move on to my next challenge and even though I have not yet arrived at my destination, the journey is something that I try to enjoy every day.

The notion of mobility that Kerouac speaks to is absolutely something that holds true in unemployment.  I constantly feel like I am searching for new opportunities and experiences to help me navigate myself to this elusive ‘golden land’.  When you are unemployed you cannot coast.  You must be active and participate in the whole process of finding work.  I can’t just wake up at 8am everyday, put in my hours at work, and then come home and collect my paycheck.  When I get up in the morning I have no idea what to expect in the day or if today could be the day that the journey will end.  Maybe I will get a phone call about a job, maybe I will be asked to meet with somebody, maybe I will find an ad for the perfect job, or maybe none of these things will happen at all.  Consequently, I have a choice.  I can either be miserable about the fact that this is the path that I have taken or I can learn to love and accept the situation that I am in and embrace the journey rather than curse it.

My choice has been to embrace it as much as possible and I was reminded of this during my 4 hour road trip to and from Pittsburgh this past weekend.  On Sunday morning I was tired, exhausted, and ready to be back at my destination in Washington, D.C.  The 4 hour drive facing me was the last thing that I wanted to do after a weekend full of celebration but it had to be done.  I got in my car and I thought about how I desperately wanted to be back in bed on this cold and rainy day and I thought about how far away I was from getting to where I needed to be.  But as I drove on mile after mile I found that while I was excited to arrive home in a few hours that I cold not look back on what I had left behind.  It was time to forge ahead.  I began to focus on the scenery, the music coming from my car stereo, the food that I could eat when I decided it was time to rest, and who I could talk to on my journey home that would make my experience that much more enjoyable.  In other words, I focused on the journey and not the destination.

This is how I feel about my journey through unemployment.  The destination is inextricably linked to the process of the journey but if the focus was solely on my arrival at the ‘golden land’ of employment then I would be missing out on the journey and everything that it has to offer me.  I have gained a lot of knowledge and experience along this journey and just how much won’t be known until I arrive at my destination.  In the meantime, however, I am trusting in the process, making sure to enjoy my experience, and keep an eye on what is going on around me so I can appreciate it, learn from it, and hope it can help guide me to my destination.      

Make no mistake, as frustrating as the journey can be at times, I know that I will eventually arrive at where I am headed to – wherever that may be – and a new journey will start and I will embrace it as much as I have this one.  After all, as Jack Kerouac also famously said in On The Road, “They have worries, they’re counting the miles, they’re thinking about where to sleep tonight, how much money for gas, the weather, how they’ll get there–and all the time they’ll get there anyway, you see.”

See you guys there.

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