Thriving in Adversity

On paper, this hasn’t been my best year. I had a relationship end early in the year, was let go from my salaried library position in May, and most recently both my car and computer have taken dives. I have only to get sick and/or find myself in prison in order to complete the misfortune cycle. I don’t plan to do either of those things…

Despite these adversities, I find myself happier than I have been in a long time.

I don’t like driving. Every time my car has failed or I’ve decided I didn’t feel like paying my insurance, I have been happier walking around on my own feet and, now, riding all over the area on my bicycle (which I paid over $600 last year, perhaps in anticipation of another car breakdown that I wouldn’t be able to afford). Driving is too comfortable. There are the obvious downsides of it burning up fossil fuels and polluting the air, but those aren’t as tangible as the simple joy of using my own “fuel” to move around the world. I’m also saving myself almost $200 a month, not paying for insurance or gas, which is desperately needed these days.

This brings me to my next trial. I was fired from my library director position in May for not performing up to the library board’s expectations. They were right to fire me. I hated the job. I hated going to that town every day. I hated sitting in an air-conditioned office every day doing things that felt hollow and useless to me. I love books, that will never change, but libraries really aren’t about the books anymore. And even if they still partially are, librarians aren’t about books anymore. It’s a multi-faceted job, of which books are now just a small part, and I find that I severely dislike all the other facets.

So now I work on an organic farm, part time, and at a retreat center part time. I am outside for 95% of my workday, and I actually like it. It’s not perfect, but there isn’t much in life that is. It’s vastly preferable to the life I was living just six months ago. I make less money, but I don’t even care. It’s worth the contentment to lose a few bucks a month.

The third facet of life, the romantic one, isn’t flourishing in similar ways, but I think it could. I am happier than I’ve been in a long time, and I think it’s evident. I’m also in better shape than I’ve been since I was in high school, thanks to a few months at the gym, working hard outdoors, and now biking at least 15 miles a day. This is a recipe for attracting women, should women somehow materialize in Three Rivers.

This all brings me to the question: why do I thrive in adversity? I wouldn’t choose to bike 15 miles a day. I wouldn’t have quit my job. I wouldn’t have broken up with my girlfriend. But now that these things are pressed on me, I prefer my life. This makes me think that I’ve never grown up, and that I still need parents to boss me around.

That’s mostly a joke, but there’s something to be said for the lack of discipline I operated with this time last year. I sometimes wonder, had I chosen to go into the military out of high school, if I’d be a very different person right now. More violent probably, scarred definitely, but maybe more in control of what I want and how to push myself to get what I want.

But I didn’t go into the military. And so here I am.

Maybe this is a turning point though. I’m pushed out of comfort, which is a catalyst for change. I’ve already changed.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Read Blue Zones. There’s some interesting information there about doing work that you love and simplifying life. The library sounded miserable. How sad that something that is meant to be a sanctuary is really not. Sometimes you accident find sanctuary in adversity instead. Life brings unexpected gifts. Enjoy.

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