So here is the correspondence that led to this column:
Subject: Your job
"Mr. Tennis, maybe I can have your job? I'm a better writer than you are and I don't have a job or any money. Thank you!!"
"I don't think I can do that. Maybe I can help you get a job, though, or get some money."
And she replied,
"Cary, that is very very kind of you. You're advanced. Please advise."
Well, I may have overreached a little when I said maybe I can help you get a job. Luckily, Stephannie actually has some relevant knowledge in this area that she is willing to share with you. As for me, I'm more about the spiritual condition of joblessness -- how it feels to feel like you're not worth anything, and what to do about that, regardless of whether you have any money or not. So here is my advice:
Stop what you're doing and sit still. Right now, everything is fine. You are not starving. You are just worried about the future.
Detach yourself from the drama of your imagined misfortune. Take stock of your toes, if they are painted or if they are plain. If they are plain, consider painting them. Take the afternoon to paint your toes. In this way, you make a microscopic improvement in the beauty of the planet and are thus microscopically useful for that day.
Here is the one thing I know about being employed: It is about being useful. Being useful means seeing if we might ameliorate some tension or ease some pain or bring some coffee or fetch some water or hang some painting or edit some prose or offer some shelter or hand a dollar bill to someone.
In a big way, it's what we are here for: to be useful. Not just to breathe and consume carrot cake but to garden a bit, and help kids. Maybe if you are cut out for it you can overthrow a despot. Not everyone is cut out for overthrowing despots. Some of us are afraid to talk back to our mothers. That's OK. But we must be useful, and if we can be useful to those who are overthrowing despots, rather than being useful to despots, that is even better. I feel like at Salon, I work among people who are overthrowing despots and talking back to their mothers, but I just do my quiet thing on the side.
I must say, your initial approach was a high-risk one. Some people would compose a careful note. You were like a child hitting me with a stick. What do you want, rude child? You just keep hitting me with the stick.
OK, I understand that. You had to find somebody tall to hit with a stick. That's the state you were in.
But now that you have calmed down, consider this:
When we are troubled, we must find balance. When we are cauldrons, when we are swirling, when we are bubbling, quaking, steaming with the feeling that we have been overlooked, we are in a panic and can do no good for ourselves or anyone else. We must first find balance. We must first sit quietly.
There. Now you can work on your résumé. Now you can be strategic.
- See what others are saying in the Table Talk forum.
- Ask for advice. Letter writers: Please think carefully! By sending a letter to firstname.lastname@example.org, you are giving Salon permission to publish it. Once you submit it, it may not be possible to rescind it. So be sure. If you are not sure, sleep on it. You can always send tomorrow. Ready? OK, Submit your letter for publication.
- Or, just make a comment to Cary Tennis not for publication.
- Or, send a letter to Salon's editors not for publication.