Monday, March 4, 2013

The Slump

Five months ago I moved my family from Las Vegas, Nevada to Orem, Utah. (There we are, in Utah.) There were several reasons we did this. Some of those reasons were super clear to me, and some were not. Some were public, and some were personal. Some I’m still not sure of yet. But the path was illuminated and we felt an internal nudge to walk that path. So we did.  

This move included the process of finding a new job. And...everybody relax...I finally found The One. In fact, I start today, and I am really, really excited!

If you've never been out of work for longer than two weeks, please allow me to share just a few personal observations:

1.  It is the easiest thing in the world to “feel busy.” You will sometimes wonder how you ever found time to have a full-time career and do everything else. Your wife will ask you to go to the grocery store, and your response will be, “WHAT? That’s, like, my entire afternoon!” And then when she asks you what you’re so busy with…the only thing you’ll be able to think of is that all five seasons of Alias are now on Netflix, and those episodes aren't going to watch themselves!

2. Up to now, you have been unable to fully fathom both the glory and hazard that is Netflix Streaming.

3. There will come a day when you are standing in front of the bathroom mirror, and you have the razor in your hand, and the thought will come to you, “Who am I shaving for? Seriously, WHO cares if I’m clean shaven?” And with a smirk on your face, you’ll put the razor away. Then you’ll be surprised to notice that you’re wearing jeans…the same pair of jeans you've been wearing for four days. And they do nothing for your figure. And you’ll be disgusted with yourself. So you’ll throw those jeans in a dirty clothes pile, and you’ll go the entire morning pants-less. There will be whispered concerns between family members, but nobody will actually confront you; because clearly, you have only one marble left rolling around in that noggin of yours.

4. There will be moments where you absolutely do not feel like talking to anyone. Because even when they are genuinely concerned about your well being, you have to give them a lame update. And you start to feel that, in addition to being a disappointment to yourself, now you’re letting them down as well.  

5. You will appreciate the vulnerability of others like never before. 

6. You'll develop a deepened repugnance for Know-It-Alls. 

7. You will have conversations with your spouse that goes a little something like this:

Or something like this:

You: I’m sorry.
Spouse: For what?
You: For failing.
Spouse: Failing at what?
You: You name it.

Or maybe even something like this:

You: “The problem is I’m not qualified to do anything.”
Spouse: “You are qualified to do everything!”
You: “I've never done anything great.”
Spouse: “Everything you do is great!”
You: “Just saying the opposite of what I’m saying doesn't build confidence in me.”
Spouse: “So you want me to stop?”
You: “…Not really.”

8. You will watch clips like this, and you’ll wish that in all this "down time" you could have dinner with Elder Holland.

9.  People will ask you if you are enjoying some “down time” to do whatever it is you have always wanted to do. Write, sculpt, paint, lose weight, master the art of kung fu, create an app, become a stunt driver, start your midwifery practice…whatever. (They mean well, so don’t punch them in the throat.)  You have to remember that when you’re in the World of the Employed, having “free time” seems like the ultimate gift. But when you are in the World of the Unemployed, that “free time” and "energy to be creative" and "desire to develop new passions" and "need to wear pants" is completely choked out by the daily anxiety that despite no money coming through your door, it continues to fly out your windows.

10.  If you are blessed to be married to Katie then you will take profound comfort in her unparalleled level of confidence that all things will work together for your good, that you will be blessed to come off the conqueror and that somehow you have the abilities to provide for your family. And that she will be crazy about you, come what may.

11. You will read scriptures and your Patriarchal Blessing and remember other priesthood blessings and counsel you've received and you will be reassured and have fresh hope and courage fill your soul. Then it will be after lunch that same day, and your surroundings aren't any different than they've been for days. And you will conclude, “I know that if I am worthy of these blessings then the Lord will make good on all His promises. So…since the Lord cannot lie, and these blessings are eluding me…I must not be worthy of them. What am I doing wrong?” And so you’ll take it to the Lord over and over, and ask Him what you’re doing wrong. And the only clear answer will be, “We’re not working on your timetable. Have faith. Carry on.” And you’re kind of comforted by that, even though things are not working out when you think they should.

12. There are generous people everywhere; and sometimes even the smallest gestures of love or kindness will make you weep. It can truly be overwhelming. Whether you receive of somebody’s money or time or words of confidence, you feel known. And you wish you could adequately express your love and gratitude to these individuals, who have fast become your favorite people ever.

13. When you least expect it, you will receive clarity. For example, maybe you’re in the temple. And maybe there’s a man in front of you who has cerebral palsy and it takes his every painstaking effort to move ever so slowly, with the help of a walker. And you notice the grimace in his face, and the slowness of his breath. And it surprises you to see he’s younger than you. And a temple worker looks to you, wondering if you have come with this man to the temple today in order to assist him. And you haven’t, but you find yourself placing your hand on this stranger’s back and asking if he needs any help. And his grimace turns into a wide and warm smile, and he chuckles and responds, “Oh…I need every kind of help.” And as you are drawn into his disarming laughter, you marvel at his disposition and his faith and optimism. And you are embarrassed at how whiny you've been about your own temporary struggles. And you feel a voice patiently whispering to you, gently reminding you, “Your trial is a moment. Endure it well.”

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