Do you listen to Josh Ritter? People sometimes ask me what kind of music I like, and I don’t know what to say. Country? Folk? Whatever the genre is, Josh Ritter is in it. Technically, he’s a singer-songwriter, but that just sounds so indulgent, and he isn’t indulgent. He’s a smart writer, and puts on an incredible live show, and he is always smiling. It is adorable. He writes the kind of lines that stick with you forever.
One of my favorite songs is about reuniting with an old flame, and one of my favorite lines in the song is “I had been to Cleveland; you had been to jail. You seemed to be recovering, but I felt a little pale.” I love that. I never thought about a dull life in a dull Ohio city as something to be recovered from, but it sort of is. He’s being funny but he’s also right that minor catastrophes can take a long time to get over, maybe even longer than the big disasters, because we don’t know how to process them.
Say you lose a loved one. Some people don’t know what to say to you, but others do, and you grieve your loss, because that’s what you do and you have an aching spot where that person used to be forever, but you also get better over time, because that’s what you do. But how do you grieve and move on from years wasted with the wrong person, in the wrong job, the wrong religion, or the wrong life? You don’t get flowers or days off from work when you get divorced or lose your faith. And it’s not so much the event that hurts as the realization that you’ve lost time and vitality and you will never get it back. Or maybe you feel like you survived something, like death chose you and then passed you over, and you don’t know what to do next. You keep going because that’s what you do, but you’ve got a paleness about you that no one understands, not like they understand the ache of a true loss. I am not saying the minor catastrophes are worse than the big disasters. I mean, I’d obviously rather lose my job than a parent. But sometimes they are. I think I can say I’d rather lose Robert to illness than divorce. (I feel compelled to say God forbid either circumstance now, but you should know that I’m only saying it because I know I sound cold and heartless if I don’t.)
This post has turned out to be much more dramatic than I intended. I just wanted to tell you that since I quit my job, I feel like I’ve escaped something big. I’m still processing the change and I want to talk about it, but then I feel like an idiot because it was just a job, and not even a very hard one at that. I mean, there are lots of people whose job it is to fight wars. Or fires. Or poverty. I worked in a freaking office and wore a suit. I feel like Josh Ritter, bitching about Cleveland to somebody who survived prison.
I started my new job a little over a month ago. It’s substantially the same as my old job. I work in an office ten minutes from my old office and wear a suit. My day-to-day looks the same. But I underwent a massive paradigm shift when I left my old job. I stepped off the path I’d been on for years and years. I chose happiness over prestige for the first time, like, ever. And it wasn’t until I made that decision that I realized I’d spent the previous year sinking into unhappiness and all for what? Not a job I cared about or even wanted. I was doing it because I felt like I should.
This post isn’t anything you needed to read, but it is something I needed to write. And I may need to write a little more about this transition before I’m fully recovered.
Now go listen to Josh Ritter (that’s a link to his website, which has some free mp3s). Also, look at how adorable he is:
Photo via Losanjelous.