The job search feels like an endless exercise in futility.
I recently launched a new hobby that may help me persevere.
It involves the unusual tactic of seeking emotional discomfort.
Background: morning glories are a pest in any garden. I got a lot of experience weeding them in the garden I maintained behind the house on Barclay Street. They’re highly invasive, grow fast, and display a Bolshevik determination to take over. Half a dozen vines 8-10 feet long can grow from a single root. It’s important to pull up as much rhizome as possible.
The library was closed July 4, so I made arrangements with Pastor to be able to use the computer room at church all day. There is an extensive active garden space behind the church. Out there on a smoke break, I noted an abundance of morning glory activity. I recalled language from a May 27 e-mail to Pastor: “We might can also brainstorm some about ways I can ‘give back.’ The whole dependency/unearned stuff has started getting to me.”
Here was an opportunity to “give back.”
Weeding the garden before the big fall festival last year had been a major undertaking. Were we to keep it weeded week to week over the season, it would be less of a task when that time comes this year. As to the morning glories, I could easily spend four hours every Monday (Given the church’s hours, the shelter’s hours, and transportation, four hours at church constitutes spending the day.) specifically weeding them.
I could become the nemesis of the morning glories.
There would be some motivational/emotional issues I’ll detail below. I took these into consideration from the get-go.
I ran this by Pastor via e-mail, and he said, “We could really use the help.” I committed to start 07/14.
Four hours in the sun is a long time. I got a baseball cap that night (July 4) to protect my (bald) head; dungarees Sunday 07/13 to protect my dress slacks; and I still need to obtain some sun block. As things went 07/14, I was only able to put in 2½ hours, too little for the motivational factors to kick in. But they will.
From my diary for Friday 2014-07-18:
[My therapist] asked Tuesday whether it would be useful for me to abide negative feelings sometimes rather than always seeking to immediately sublimate them all. The former might help motivate me to work to improve my circumstances. On the one hand, “Your Heart’s Desire” has a passage about discontent I might do well to review.
On the other hand, (My back was sore this morning from Monday.) I answered by talking about weeding. The real work won’t start until the activity becomes tedious, boring, unpleasant; until I become even perhaps resentful. Then I will need to push myself for the sake of commitment. I recalled Coach Oster’s saying the hardest event in track and field is the 440, because (he said), run properly, at the end of 330 you’ve got nothing left, and the last 110 is “pure guts.”
Clawing at the earth when I’m already sweaty, dirty and tired can be a perfect metaphor (meditative symbol, prophetic act) for clawing my way out of the pit of poverty. Pressing on, I can imagine myself in a race, striving toward the goal (Philippians 3:14, 2 Timothy 4:7) of financial independence.
At the end of the day, I can take satisfaction and pride in my accomplishment, my achievement, the obstacles I have overcome.
This may give me the self-esteem I need to take up again those labors that thus far have brought me no reward.