What’s that, bunkie? You say you arrived at your office one morning and found it wasn’t there? You say that management “forgot” to pay your federal income tax withholding, and someone is on the hook for your taxes but your boss is in the Bahamas and you’re getting truculent letters from the IRS?
You say the idea that would change the way America does business didn’t? You say all your contacts in the world of e-commerce have suddenly become contacts in the world of food service? You say, in short, that you are jobless, at loose ends, clinically depressed, and living in your pajamas?
Cheer up! Every cloud has a silver lining, although that is not a clichŽ that rewards close analysis. There are many advantages to your new condition. You have experienced
a character-building situation, and you will emerge from this dark time tougher and braver than ever. You may even finally want to get your GED through an online course…Isn’t it time? As Nietzsche said, that which does not kill me, makes me stronger. Alas, he forgot to add: That which kills me, kills me.
First, consider what you no longer have to worry about. Long commutes? Not a problem. Endless hours of uncompensated overtime? Not an issue. Sleep deprivation? Forget about it! Stock option envy? Heck, the guy down the hall who had the option on one million shares of Grubble.com just moved back in with his parents, whereas your 50,000 shares don’t even make the radar screen. So many people are screwed worse than you. Indeed, the phrase “comparatively lightly” is often associated with your name. How cool is that?
Even better: Remember how you were forever complaining that you didn’t have a life? Now you do! There it is, every golden morning: Your life. You can taste, see, smell, feel, touch it. Go stare at a bird for a while! Take a walk! Watch that Road Rules marathon! Drink heavily! Man, this is great.
Here are some concepts might be useful in your new, lifelike life:
Sleep. Many people in the larger world can and do sleep for six, seven, even eight hours at a time. They do it in a special room, that place in your underfurnished apartment that you probably think of as “the sex place.” Many experienced sleepers like to start at more or less the same time every night. Once you are “in the zone,” as somnambulant specialists like to say, you’ll find you can largely avoid waking up screaming “not enough eyeballs!”
Friends. That’s the common name for people who are not co-workers and with whom you nevertheless spend time. A closely related concept is “conversation,” which are the verbal exchanges you enjoy with your “friends.” These conversations have nothing do with your work. Indeed, your friends may not even know how you used to earn a living or care! One excellent thing to do with friends is to watch videos or DVDs of Repo Man, Buckaroo Bonzai, and The Bride with White Hair. At first, it would be best to avoid Tron, Sneakers, and Office Space.
Nature. Once you have regular sleep habits and friends, you might want to consider going outside. Get away from the urban bioregion you inhabit, where all sorts of things seem to expand and fill almost all the available space. At first, it can be unnerving. Here is a place that is not rigidly climate-controlled, and sometimes water in liquid or solid state falls from above, causing inconvenience.
Even if it’s just for a few moments, get used to the idea of being outdoors. No need to rush into scuba diving or extreme skiing. Indeed, no need to rush into anything.
Food. Memorize the motto, “Food: It’s not just fuel anymore.” As odd as it sounds, many people do not eat food delivered in cardboard boxes or plastic wrapping by surly underage delivery persons with more attitude than you had when you were 19. No, they sit down at restaurants with friends and order things based on their taste. Sometimes they order several “courses”-a soup followed by a piece of meat followed by a sweet something. It’s a whole new world. You know those shrink-wrapped California rolls you used to eat? Hey, wait’ll you taste the real thing!
And here’s more good news: Some people prepare food at home. Yes, that mysterious appliance in your kitchen with the glowing spirals or the real flames-it has a real function. Wait’ll you check out what the oven can do! And the broiler! There will be dust on your microwave pretty darn quick.
Remember: Change is good; sometimes it just feels bad.