Looking back on this year, one event that happened to me in the summer sticks out more than any other: I was almost made redundant as I was told that the department I had been working in for a few years was closing down and me and my co-workers would have to compete for other jobs in the building. I managed to get a role in another department as did most of my colleagues but some other people I had worked with and known for a while decided to leave. The news completely shocked us at the time and for a little while I was having to consider finding another job. During the Covid-19 lockdowns, I was fortunate that I could still go in to work and not have
to wear a facemask all day so I had a false sense of security about my job and could not imagine this bombshell hitting me.
It got me thinking about how we are often complacent about the stability and constancy of our lives and also how we assume we are in complete control of our circumstances. I was briefly stripped of that complacency when I discovered that a decision made by people I’ve never met completely upended my life for a couple of months and I didn’t realise that I was so vulnerable.
Of course, a risk of redundancy is nothing compared to other sudden and unexpected news that people are forced to deal with. Unless you’ve experienced it, it’s difficult to imagine how you would react if you were told you had a terminal illness or if a friend or family member died without any warning beforehand.
Of the job vacancies that were available, I ended up getting the one nobody really wanted and so effectively drew the short straw. At the time, I was understandably a little annoyed that I ended up where I had but it was wisely pointed out to me by others that it didn’t have to be forever and I could eventually find somewhere else to go.
I thought about these lines from Bob Dylan’s famous song The Times They Are A-Changin’:
The line it is drawn, the curse it is cast
The slow one now will later be fast
As the present now will later be past
In other words, fortunes and circumstances change and my unhappiness would not last forever if I just got on with it and was proactive. Fortunately, it turned out my new job was nowhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be and at the moment I’m satisfied with where I am so my initial grumblings were completely unnecessary. This shows that we can experience unexpected good outcomes as well as bad ones. It would still surprise me though if I knew at the beginning of this year where I’d be at the end of it.
Similar to the idea I put forward in another post about comfort being a false god, we should be wary about being too complacent and assume our contentment will last forever. Another mantra of sorts I came up with during this period is ‘the day shall come’. This basically means that there will be a day at some point in the future that will completely change your life in some way, maybe only temporary, maybe permanently, and likely in such a way that you didn’t expect. This can sound ominous and unnerving as it suggests that there will always be bad news around the corner but it could be that things suddenly improve when you are suffering and in a dark place. Thinking about this can help you prepare for possible bad times to come but may also reassure you that the bad times won’t last forever.
Overall, what happened to me was only a minor occurrence even though I didn’t expect it but there will be tougher times that I’ll have to deal with some day. In some ways, I’ve returned to the complacency I had before all of this happened but at least I had the experience to remind me to expect the unexpected.
The day shall come. Watch out for it.