A bit over 10 years ago or thereabouts I used to be fond of quipping "If you asked me a couple of years ago what were the top three things I'd never see myself doing they would be: Owning a Volvo, working in hospitality again, and getting married. So, it turns out I've done all three, and they've worked out pretty well."
Cute, huh. The marriage is the only keeper of the three thus far.
The Volvo was a 1977 245 DL wagon, in white, bought from a young mechanic guy who was rationalising his fleet due to the birth of the second baby and also I suspect to free up funds to further enhance his amazing Gemini panel van. It was great. I may have mentioned earlier that my earliest vehicular proclivities were for the two wheeled variety so of course a white Volvo wagon is EXACTLY the epitome of the car of The Enemy. I had in fact twice been molested traffic-wise by dozy Volvo drivers. When driving our new car, I often wore a hat,completing the stereotype.
The ownership experience taught me many things. It taught me that old Volvos can be great cars, but they are expensive to fix when stuff goes wrong. It taught me a bit about the ingrainedness of prejudice. For example, driving perfetly safely and legally along a right-of-way road, a young woman in a small red hatchback suddenly pulled out across in front of me from a side street, causing me to have to brake very heavily (rather good brakes on this car happily) and as she sailed across my bows the split second of shockand guilt upon her face immediately transformed into indignant outrage upon seeing the Volvoness involved and she hit the horn, raised a finger, and I could clearly lip read her snarling a "Fucking Volvo driver!!!" as she continued on her merry way. I also learned the invisibility to most law enforcement types of a bland white family wagon. Also their inability to comprehend such a conveyance as ours travelling at speeds in excess of 140kms an hour in a 110 zone, officer Matt, sorry, I promise I won't do it again. The look on our young country copper's face as he did the double-take over the speed gun and recognized me was truly priceless. He told me the reading on the quiet at work later - I was running late, you see.......
Perhaps the greatest learning from the Volvo thing was that sometimes it's a great idea to take car buying advice from a young clueless Spice Girls loving ballerina with no real knowledge of cars and such, especially as everything she had to say on the subject made no sense whatsoever. Still, listening to the little voice deep inside me, I recognised something good for me to follow up on. The omens lined up. Good things can come from entirely unexpected directions. The car served us faithfully until we no longer need one, and I hear she blew up a couple of months after we sold her - the car, not the ballerina.
Hospitality was a different fish in the coffee pot entirely. I'd sworn off the waiting game as a mug's proposition; as something I was quite decent at, but 'beneath' my talents entirely. Moving into a small country town whose main industry apart from smallholder farming was tourism, I naturally gravitated back to the game, to make ends meet. I very nearly had a ball. I let myself take it quite seriously (I know, I take everything too seriously - or used to) and it started off a whole new direction for me, not just in terms of portability of easy-to-deploy cash-garnering skills, but of malleability of outward character. I enjoyed being that guy behind the bar now, the expert performance waiter, and as often happens I found myself doing more and more interesting managerial things quite quickly - sometimes simply because I was last man standing. The adventure spanned many years and the breadth of our continent, before it finally undid me.
Not me, btw. Obviously, now, I guess.
Self-worth is not something one best derives from one's employment in an institution key to the perpetuation of inequality and greed in a society such as ours. You can justify it for so long with notions of giving great service, facilitating people having a good time, managing others well so they can continue to at least have a job.....but really it's just a crock. Like the spaceship full of hairdressers and telephone sanitisers in the Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy series.
I learned that when you buy in, when you take it on, you'd better be good at carrying heavy burdens (literally and energetically) or at not being there while at work. I got out after the back injury disaster, and with only one more big false start after that, still trying to do good through working within the system, I worked it out. You know what I mean, I'm sure.
As for the marriage to Meeta, well. I don't think it's too much to say that she would have professed a similar sentiment to myself about the high improbability of such a thing ever happening. It's also a whole other story....and one from which I have learned, and am learning, more from and through than I ever would have considered possible in one lifetime.
So often it seems, the thing we resist persists. There's a concept oft expressed in spiritual writings of all bents that you get back what you put out, that what you focus on expands, that energy flows where attention goes....all of that. Go looking for trouble, and you'll find it - just ask any policeman or woman. So when we put a big emphasis on what we never want to invite into our lives, the more it's there, behaving as the universe does, thriving on our 'negative' energy about it. A friend once used to grow special herbs for personal use at home under lights, many years ago. Not only is doing this illegal where he lived, but being a relatively closed monocultural system it requires great monitoring as pests and diseases can really get a hold fast. He had good success for a long time - but ultimately gave it away. When I asked why, he gave forth some sage wisdom I have recalled over and over again through my life since: "The more you try to control something, the more it controls you right back."
At the heart of it all, it doesn't matter what 'sort' of energy or attention you give to something, whether it's 'negative' or 'positive', that thing thrives and grows in your life as result. Anyone who's had toddlers or puppies knows this.
Anyway, a few months ago I started looking at a this blog of someone (whom I don't know), and kept visiting every now and then as it was (is) written with honesty, heart, and humour, and talks about a life that has a couple of similarities with my own. Then I read something that stopped me in my tracks for a moment. They were going through a separation with their partner, and things had gotten ugly. The (ex-)partner's family had gone off the rails somewhat and spread all manner of lies, slander and smears on this person's good character and when solid eveidence came to light that they had been entirely mistaken or misinformed, no apology, retraction or concession was entered into. It was a really hurtful situation. Our blogger expressed their pain, anger and disbelief beautifully, ut the line that stopped me was (I'm paraphrasing) "No matter what they say or do now, even if they do apologise, I know I'll never forgive them."
'Wow', thinks I, that's pretty harsh and anti-life stuff. I was moved at first to write something hopefully soothing and hopefully aimed at helping them realise some forgiveness - that this is about self-forgiveness as much as anything - until I woke up and remembered that my reaction is my business/problem and I'd best just be cleaning my own thoughts here. So I left it, but every now and then it would pop back up in my head and niggle at me, and get me cleaning again.
The other day I popped back on to that blog and had a really pleasant time reading a post about how much has changed in the year since the separation shit started going down; there was a mood of rapprochement, and yes, forgiveness.
I came away wondering if sometimes we just need to have that violent, self-harming reaction to boot us through the lesson we've been avoiding or just need to deal with. Sure, I still want to go the life-affirming way whenever I can, but am still receiving lessons on letting the crap reactions be honoured too, for the light they can ultimately bring.