I suppose I would be remiss to not post some sort of follow-up on the job I’ve been working.
I had been stocking shelves, but I wasn’t able to keep up with the pace required of that job. I was bumped down to maintenance, which is basically cleaning, repairing, and fixing minor code violations ad hoc. In a word, a janitor. And yes, I had to take a pay cut although I don’t know what that rate will be exactly (ball park maybe $0.20 less per hour, I’ve been told).
But there’s another side to this. First, they gave me this other job because they liked my work ethic and didn’t want to have to fire me for how terribly I was doing in the job they initially hired me for. And I have to say, I’m actually doing really well in this job; it’s so slow-paced that I’m actually able to get a lot done with the level of effort I put into it.
Also, as much as I was appalled by it at first, there was a moment yesterday when I had been sent out to sweep the loading docks and I had to laugh. In what may have been my last life, I made the remark that a science fiction author in America was regarded as “something on the level of a janitor.” I said it with such a sneer in my voice, such contempt for the job. Well, here’s my helping of humility. I’m a science fiction author and a janitor this time around. And when I laugh at that, it feels like I imagine the way a Buddha laughs. Life is a joke, and this is the punch line. And I’ve found enough tranquil detachment that I don’t feel the least bit downtrodden.
Actually, I smile a great deal more than I used to. First of all, I’m much happier as a woman. I never knew how much gender dysphoria was dragging me down until I began my life post-transition. I’m stealth enough that a lot of my coworkers- and certainly all of the customers- have never known me as anything other than the smiling, cheerful, always helpful and hard-working woman they see. They never knew the wheezing, grunting, griping, bitter, frustrated man and I am completely free of any negative impressions I might have given them if they’d seen me in that fractured, false, and deeply troubled personality.
Second, being able to confront some of the past life memories that led to my bad attitudes was probably just as helpful as the gender transition. With the personality crash that came with the gender dysphoria (a common feature of that condition), I had a chance to completely rebuild myself from the ground up and I have to say, I’m glad I took that opportunity. I’m glad I saw value in the insights I’ve gained through my work with past lives. If nothing else, I can smile because I know that whatever happens, it can’t be half as bad as some of the terrifying shit I’ve seen.
Third, I’ve reached a point of spiritual equilibrium, so much so that my work actually plays well with my ascetic tendencies. And so when I frame it as a quasi-monastic lifestyle, a regular rhythm of life with honest labor, reading, writing, and apprenticing in holy orders, I find that the work is strangely satisfying. And even in my labor, I’m often in a state of light meditation. I’ve discovered a Zen-like sweet spot where I can be so into what I’m doing that I’m able to meditate simply by getting my job done. And so I’m out there sweeping floors with a tranquil smile, and people smile back, and the boss is really impressed by how much I get done and how eagerly I jump in but really, I’m just getting my Zen on.
Finally, I’m happy because I can appreciate this job. I went for so long without one. For about three years while living in Arkansas with my fiance, we had what might be called “stable poverty.” We had just enough money to support ourselves without help from family, and it was really nice. But then we moved to Oregon, I lost my job, had my big breakdown and flood of past life angst, and things went to hell. And I had to rely on family and student loans to survive, along with the existential dread of wondering what I was going to do once those things were gone. But now, I’m back to the level of being able to support myself and I have to say, it’s really doing wonders for my confidence. They say that being able to go back to work is helpful for people recovering from a traumatic experience, and for me it’s definitely proving true.
Maybe one day I’ll make it as a writer, or an academic, or something of note. Until then, I’m doing well and finding myself quite literally better off than I’ve been in centuries. I’m poor as dirt, but for now I’ve got everything I need and for once, I can appreciate how good I have it.