Welcome to Ask April, a no-nonsense advice column focusing on what it is you can do to correct things that need correcting. While we all know much in life is out of our control, and sometimes, our reaction is all we CAN control- we really do have a lot of personal power, thankfully. Our will is just as important as the wills of others around us, and while we need to be considerate, we also need to make sure others are equally considerate of us. It is my hope that when you write in to me, asking advice, that I can help you make a good decision that somehow improves whatever situation you’ve found yourself in. As with anything I share, I recommend people don’t automatically take my word for anything, but include my advice in with the rest of the things that help them make a decision. I wish you well. Read on.
Every other week, I answer a call for advice, and every other week, I share my views on something I observed- I call this Observational Wisdom.
It’s been an interesting month of April so far, and we are just ten days in!
This month, I am back to a regular job.
It went swimmingly at first, but yesterday, my body decided to shut down on me- just like it has done for almost three years now.
I’ve been at this site on and off since 2006, and got a good word from somebody close to the owners, so I’m back on.
But getting sick meant I had to talk to the boss. I explained I never know when I will have a bad day, so I asked her to count me as a volunteer extra set of hands, and have me come on a non-paid basis. She said she refused to take advantage of that, and if I am sick, I’m sick, but otherwise, I’m on the payroll. I wound up working half the hours I was scheduled to yesterday, and I was told that was fine. I had not expected that, and these owners will have my loyalty until the day I die because of it. I have a position despite everything, and I could not be more thankful.
But I wonder what would have happened if I had failed to step forward and ask for this opportunity? If I had just given up, “accepted my fate”, and decided to keep on staying home, doing only what I felt like? Aside from staying home, what would happen if I only did what I felt up to doing in general? If I just surrendered to my body? If I gave up and “gave it to god” as a lot of people are fond of saying?
As you read this, you see what I write, and you understand on some level what I am saying, but you don’t see me. You have either had loved ones with chronic illness, or had such an illness yourself. To see me on a good to half way decent day, you would not know I was one of those people. To talk to me, I have a lot going on. I do this column weekly, and the other publication I contribute to monthly. I take care of the animals, bake, and cook, and make art, and crochet. I visit with loved ones, and attend occasional gatherings. I do the gardening at home, as well as read for the tarot clients I get who stop in. A friend told me last week “Well, you are more busy than when you were working full-time!” Not at all. I worked 40 plus hours a week before, and still did all those things. Some days, all I do is crochet or paint for a few hours, do a load of dishes, and cook dinner. Some days I do more, and some days, I do much less.
I am told by friends who hate working that I’ve got it made because I “don’t have to work”, but I love working. I love both the money, and the independence. More than anything, I need to feel useful, and accomplished. I can’t live with just being alive, and being kept.
I might not have money coming in, but my resume shows despite that, I am still active in my community. For women who have kids, employers don’t mind a gap of inactivity for a number of years. For women who don’t, that try to get back into the workforce, an unexplained absence from work raises suspicions. I combatted that by taking volunteer work, tarot clients, and commissions for art, and crochet. No gap. Yay me.
Did I have to? No. Did we financially benefit? Fuck no. The benefit is, it kept me going, and it kept me alive.
There have been times I was working on a project, or meal, or was giving a reading, and I felt like hell. I got carsick more than a few times traveling to get to a site or to gather supplies to work with. I crash after overdoing it on good days quite often. I would rather crash after getting a lot done than not crash and do nothing.
If I only did what I felt like, and surrendered to my body, I would not have accomplished any of what I have, and this life I am living would not fit my definition of life, itself.
Radical surrender is not something that is going to happen in my life.
To repeat the cliché- “I will not accept the things that I find unacceptable. I will change what I cannot accept.” I will work on them slowly if I have to, and get help, or advice. I will not give in, and give up.
I do not belong to a religion of philosophy that embraces surrender or salvation. Mine embraces hard work, ambition, and self- respect. My father god never said he will do things for me if I could not do them myself. If you look at the scriptures, lore, and history of the peoples of many different religions, you will not see any of their heroes taking the easy way, nor will you see a god advocating that. You see gods and goddesses telling people they have to do the right thing, which is often the most difficult. Some gods say for their people to give their worries to them- meaning not to overthink things, tear out their hair worrying, or cry over spilled milk. Those gods never said not to plan, save, work, or apply themselves.
This “Jesus/Odin/Hera take the wheel” shit is wishful thinking on people’s part. To be rescued to an afterlife through faith does not cancel out life, and all the work that comes with it on earth. We are still called to feed ourselves, and our families, as well as feed the hungry while waiting for whatever we believe comes when we die.
Beyond that, while there is a time to accept when we are working towards something that is not ours to begin with, I’m not just giving up because something is difficult.
So when I see people say they cannot handle the things going on with their life and they need some god or goddess to “take the wheel,” I just stay quiet. I watch them to see if they are quitters. Some are, and some are just repeating the cliché saying some people say enough until they believe it.
If you want a job, ask people for it, not just your god. If you want healing, go to a doctor, and if you can’t afford that, try to find things you can do on your own to help. If you want to learn to paint, gather supplies, and start. Don’t send a prayer, and never work towards it. If you want to learn to cook, start researching, take classes, or get a friend to show you how. If you want a garden, get to it.
Life is hands on. It’s not a ride somebody else is operating. Sure, sure, we can’t control EVERYTHING. But we also can’t let go of control completely. We still have to make our own decisions, and live with them. We still have to participate in the things we want to. Even when we HAVE to do something we don’t want to, staying consciously present during that experience gives us the maximum ability to assert ourselves at the moments we can.
Nobody is going to “take the wheel” and live your life for you. Nobody is going to rescue you, and make everything better forever and ever.
If you give up, you give up on you.
That is why I say surrender is not an option.