Never, never

I may never again find a job.

 

What do you feel when you read this?

 

The work I did (that defined me) for my xx year career is no longer open (to me specifically).

 

What is the picture of you that you hold when you dare to feel this or even to say this?

 

Regardless of reason — whether age or factory closing, work moving ‘elsewhere’ or one’s profession eliminated by the advances of technology and cultural taste — the work is specific to you, and thus closed to specifically you. And your identity is, for a dark moment, shattered like Hamlet’s mirror.

 

I am a care-giver, jobless or not, and this is also the work that defines

the hours spent of my life.

 

Until it doesn’t, for those who need caring for also move on — to life, to death, to college, to others, to ‘next’ — leaving you without that outer-definition of ‘work I do’ in life as well.

How do you feel, seeing yourself as a care-giver, knowing that it, too, is a temp position if it’s outwardly defined?

 

“Even if they do all the things they’re told to do — network, improve those computer skills, find a new passion and turn it into a job — many [unemployed and older people] struggle with the question of whether their working life as they once knew it is essentially over,” writes Alena Tugend in The New York Times last Saturday.

(‘Unemployed and Older, and Facing a Jobless Future’,The New York Times, July 27, 2013.)

 

I would suggest this is true for anyone unemployed or in life transition. It’s harder, yes, when facing this when older for when we’re young, we expect there to always be a next gig. But in reality the news from those newly educated and unable to ‘find a job’ for all their investment of hours and thousands of dollars aches just as much and tugs at the soul in the dark of night facing bills and an unknown tomorrow.

 

Our life is spent in a series of ‘temp jobs’, however, no matter our age. Until we find and self-define our Work here to be done — the work only you or only your friend, or only I can do.

 

When our work defines our hours, our journey, our self-esteem, our ability to provide for those we love and ourselves, obviously it’s important. No matter the age or circumstance, whether demonstrating for a living wage as a fast-food worker, a journalist wondering where all the newspapers went (along with the fact- and spell-checking staff), or a care-giver who graduates a child from college the same year the remaining care-needing parent leaves this earth, the work that we see as defining us and fills our ‘productive’ hours is very important.

 

Notice, however, that all of this esteem comes from the eyes of others: the pay-check, the role, the business-card/title and the all-important ‘connections’ and the who-you-knows. These are the tacit measures of Your Worth — the other-defined value of what you do.

 

In a world where people’s souls are reduced to ‘what can you do for me’ bosses and the entire category of workers summed up by the term ‘human capital’ rather than ‘the person who works with me and for whom I’m so grateful s/he does,’ our Worth and Value is too-often defined by what we ‘produce’ rather than what we give and contribute of our unique talents and enthusiasm. It’s a demeaning system when looked at this way, no? And this, too, is nothing new.

 

Now, just for a little moment, focus on what your Work is:

What is your Mission should you decide to accept it

— the Mission you have the perfect package of heart, soul, knowledge, enthusiasm and vision to undertake

(skills can be learned) —

right here and right now?

 

Feeling one’s Work to be meaningful, we know, creates a feeling of self-worth and self-esteem. We carry ourselves differently, we hold our Value in our presence and in our smile, knowing we are using our specific talents, gifts and vision and creating something valuable with our time here.

 

That’s true whether the value is in a well-raised child who flowers using his or her gifts On Task and On Purpose, or in creating good living conditions involving hands to hold and good food to eat for the last few years of a beloved’s lifetime here, or in something new that only you can see and create, whether you sell it or give it away.

 

It’s amazing to me how quickly we go from being seen as miracle, as every new baby feels to a loving family, to being cut down with a snarky ‘Who do you think you are, God’s gift to the world?’ a few years later when we are shining with Presence and working very hard at our job. This feels to be all thanks to a system in which we are made to feel value-less unless meeting someone’s definition of value or ‘worthy of being remunerated’ for what is our only time and our specific and unique gifts to be used in service of … well, in service of what?

 

Something greater than our short lives, simply.  Something we feel moved to do by an inner desire that aches to be made manifest.

 

Call that something what you will. For military, it’s in service of country and maybe even God; for others of us, it’s in service of God or Creation. Yet, for others, it’s in service of society or of leaving the world a better place.

But for anybody, is our individual Worth and Value felt in service of ‘the Boss’ or a corporate board’s paycheck? That doesn’t mean making a beautiful door for a car isn’t a worthy use of one’s life-time here; it is because you are good at it, and when it requires your creativity, skill, discipline, time and yes, joy, for it to be well-made. It requires You, your best shining forth.

 

Your real work is defined by You, shining your best into the world. And that’s possible only if you feel Value and Worth — self-defined — powering it. That makes it more than a job. And it makes it worth pursuing and holding in vision; that makes it Work the world needs and only you can do.

We are charged with this Task: To Be our best, use our specific and unique skills, gifts, talents, and infuse them with joy and enthusiasm in the service of something greater.

 

This is your Work to do:

Use your gifts to be a Gift to this world.

It may not be the job you had before or will ever have again;

but if you are doing your Work you really will feel alive.

 

And hopefully, it will never look like however you defended or defined your ‘value’ before by others. Hopefully, this is the way to find and create your Work, and it may be better than your life spent at a job up ’till now.

 

Who do you think you are . . . ?

 

If you are shining On Task and On Purpose, feel that maybe that’s an affirmative: You are a gift for you are a care-giver and this time it’s not a Temp position. You give your care, your energy, focus, talent, time as truly a gift to this world, for it’s a role only you can be great at, a Work only you can do, a You only you can offer.

 

 Blessings on your day today!

 

Elizabeth Darby

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