Work Is A Four Letter Word

I made a mistake in work last week that nearly cost me my job.

It wasn’t a big mistake. In the great scheme of things it was within the realms of understandability. But, it was the latest in a long list of mistakes that have happened recently, and the client was not happy, not happy at all.

There was a very real chance that they would be out for blood. And me, being a freelancer, am easy to get rid of. If the client wanted a sacrificial goat I’d be it, and really who could blame them? Get rid of one to help the many.

It was enough of a reality to keep me awake at night. I found myself lying in bed at 4am worrying about what was going to happen. I started Googling things like “I might get fired” and “What to do if I get fired tomorrow”, but they were no help. They just brought up long lists of ways to know if you’re on your way out. But I already knew that. I needed more practical advice.

Then I tried “Getting fired was the best thing that ever happened to me”, and that led me (eventually) to this video:

Here I was, lying awake, stressing about “…doing things [I] don’t like doing in order to be able to go on doing things [I] don’t like doing!”

The ridiculousness of the situation struck me. I realised something had to change. Maybe me losing my job would be a good thing? After all, as a friend of mine said, “…sometimes we all need a little push.”

As it turns out I didn’t lose my job in the end. Not over that incident anyway. But! a couple of days ago I got an e-mail telling me that the company was restructuring, taking on new permanent members of staff, which meant that come April there’d be a lot less freelance work available (ie: none).

So after all the angst and worry, the late night philosophy and the return to business as usual, I lost my job anyway. How’s that for a turn of events? Do you ever get the feeling the Universe is trying to tell you something?

Now, I was already thinking about what I really wanted to do? I’d been looking at properties in the Lake District (more late night musings) and thinking about finishing my novel, when I came home one day to catch the end of this documentary* about one of my favourite authors, Terry Pratchett. (*only available on iPlayer until 13/3/17)

Most of his story I’d heard before, but there was one line in there that really struck me:

“The thing is, I’d have written [the books] anyway, whether they’d paid me to or not.”

Terry Partchett wrote for the joy of writing. He wrote because he loved doing it, just as Alan Watts suggests in the video. Success was a by-product to him. He was doing what he loved.

I realised I wanted that. I wanted to be doing what I love, whatever it was.

That was a wake up call for me. I realised it was time for me to do what I really love.

The next day I finished third draft re-writes on my novel. I did the last half, 120 pages or so, in a day. Now I just need to type them up, get it proof-read, and then I can send it off to people, try and get it published.

The road ahead is/was clear.

I wasn’t prepared for the job offer that came my way.

It was TV work again, full time, 8 hour days, 20 days a month, €40 an hour (effectively €75,000 a year, or £65,000 at the current exchange rate). But it would just be until September. And it would mean relocating to Amsterdam. The minuses outweighed the pluses, but still it was a tempting offer.

Having learnt from my previous mistake I got some more information, then took some time to think about it, but in the end I turned them down.

If I’d gone to Amsterdam it would have just been for the money, and that’s not enough for me anymore. I want more out of the things I do. I want the things I do to be interesting, and fun, and exciting, and worthwhile. I want to do what I love and love what I do, and sod the money side of things.

Because if you do what you love not only are you already a winner, but eventually you’ll get good at it (because doing things is how you get good at them). And then one day someone will give you money for doing what you’re doing because that’s how the world works. People like what you do and they give you money for it, either so they they can do it with you, or they want you to do it for them, or to them, or they just appreciate that someone is out there in the world doing this thing so that other people can do something else. And even if they don’t give you money for it it doesn’t matter because you love what you do! You’re already way ahead of everybody else, pretty much.

You just have to figure out what it is you want to do? I need to figure out what it is I want to do? And I need to figure out now, because this is the first day of the rest of my life, and there’s not a moment to waste!

Found Philosophy

It’s amazing the places you can find inspiration if you just keep an eye out for it.

I’m a big fan of The Big Bang Theory. It’s my favourite show on TV at the moment. But as well as the comedy gold going on during the show, I’m also a fan of the producer Chuck Lorre’s ‘Vanity Cards’ at the end of each episode.

He’s been doing these since his first TV show Dharma & Greg, when you had to record it on tape and press pause to read what it said (they’re only up for a moment). And he’s continued to do them all through his other series – Cybill, Grace Under Fire, Mike & Molly, Mom, and (most famously) Two And A Half Men.*

*It was one of his Vanity Cards, that ended with the line “If Charlie Sheen outlives me, I’m gonna be really pissed”, that caused Charlie Sheen to have his now infamous “tiger blood” meltdown.

I like the cards because they’re fun, silly, offer insights to what the studios will and won’t allow (a character dressed as a nazi with a swastika one their arm, no; a character dressed as a nazi with a smiley face on their arm, yes), and quite often they contain little philosophical gems that really make you stop and think.

Take this one for example from TBBT Season 9 Episode 19:

Vanity Card no.524
© Chuck Lorre 2016

It is a basic tenet of Indian philosophy that we are all God pretending not to be, in an effort to amuse ourselves – in the same way that we watch the greatest actor on stage and, even though we know it’s an act, we get drawn into believing anyway (a little something I picked up from the philosopher Alan Watts). This is why we put our hands together in prayer position when meet a fellow yogi, or indeed say goodbye, to recognise the God within them, and in doing so recognise the God within ourselves.

Things like that are easy to forget, so it’s nice to get a wee reminder out of the blue now and then (like at the end of a TV program).

You also get random reminders popping out of Christmas crackers too.

cracker yoga philosophy

How’s that for a bit of yogic philosophy? Not what I was expecting on Christmas morning I can tell you. But what more perfect time to be reminded of the alternative to the excesses of Christmas eh?

And here’s one I just came across whilst looking for links for this post:

“Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.” ~ Alan Watts

Particularly relevant for me as writing this post is what I’m doing when I should be writing my novel! Always the reminders are there to keep us on the straight and narrow, if only we have the eyes to see. 🙂

**You only have until tomorrow to enter the Yoga Bum Giveaway. Chances are good of winning the prize as, after ten days, you can count the number of entries on one hand! I personally thought there’d be more interest in winning free stuff but apparently not. Anyway, when I get up tomorrow morning it’ll all be over, so get in there now if you want to be in with a chance of winning.**