Yesterday I was at yet another unemployment meeting where we talked a lot about our feelings. Today is day one of my three-day water fast. And some deep, metaphysical part of me knows the two are linked.
I am fully aware of how crazy a water fast sounds (not much crazier than a bunch of adults talking about how “This staged photo of an Ikea living room represents how I like everything neat and tidy because I have control issues,” but I digress.) And it’s true that unemployment and her ostensible helpmeet, unemployment therapy classes, have made me a more deep-waters kind of person.
But I swear this is not an expression of some murky need for self-mutilation or deprivation. There are a lot of perfectly normal reasons why I represented myself with a cut-out picture of Machu Picchu and then decided to stop eating for 72 hours.
Sadly, at the moment I am too hungry to remember them, so I’ll go for the second best option. Today, in an effort to get in the groove of contemplation and the other positive effects of really wanting to submerge my entire face in a vat of melted truffle chocolate and inhale (doesn’t that just sound like heaven?), I read some really interesting stuff in a French philosophy magazine. And no, I did not then chop up the pages and make an inspiration board of “All of man’s unhappiness comes from one sole thing; his inability to sit alone in a room” and a cut-out of some airbrushed depressive with his head in his hands. Theraputic collaging is a high-risk activity ONLY to be engaged in while under professional supervision.
Anyhow, as though the editorial team of this white-male-thinky-think magazine (with its 16-percent token-female input) had decided to devote an issue to me and my fellow unemployees, this month’s theme, I kid not, reads
“Is it possible to be happy without having a job?”
My initial response was, of course, an emphatic, “Yes! Yes, yes! No jobs and chocolate for everyone!!” Of course, upon further reading, my enthusiasm was quickly called into question by big buff-brained blokes like Aristotle and Baudelaire and Hegel and other, pardon my French, dick-swingers of the old guard, who proceeded to confuse my innate knowledge that not having a ‘real’ job = having a real life.
But then I read on.
“For he who does not have two-thirds of his day to himself is a slave,” (Nietzsche. Egads.)
“Working is less boring than having fun,” (Baudelaire, poor soul!)
And then with Marx’s concept of the perfect day (itinerary: work in the morning, fish in the afternoon, philosophize in the evenings) I came to a realization both profound and freeing: nobody agrees on anything, much less about work.
Why did I expect work (and whether or not we can be happy without it) to be a simple issue of, Yes, dear, we the ancient furry philosophers would love to reaffirm everything you think. Here it is! in writing! Now go forth and proselytize.
Because I know very well that nothing, not even such seemingly cold-cut questions such as “is recycling a good thing or a bad thing?” is ever simple. (Recycling is a better thing than trashing, but less good than not buying crap that obliges you to make the decision in the first place. Of course, that snarls into a larger question: how to live without buying things? Enter philosophy.)
Basically, what I’m trying to say is there are certain things in life where the most you can do is care, arm yourself with knowledge, and then make a decision—while understanding that this decision will be as imperfect as any decision made by Kant, Hegel, or poor Baudelaire (and here I thought he was so sexy!) I mean, if even the great dick-swingers can’t agree, why should I (the great vagina-swinger) agree with any of them unless they say exactly what I think but more succinctly and with better language?
My current glucose-deprived thoughts on the matter: not working is like not eating. You can do it for a while and it’s probably good for you (even if people think you’re nuts), but eventually the reality of life intervenes (hopefully in the form of trust funds and chocolate face baths!) But, again, there’s wiggle room—not all jobs are alike, just like not all chocolate face baths are alike, either. Some you’ll savor immensely, some will most definitely drown you.
**the attempt at a 3-day fast was failed in 30 hours spent deciding exactly which cake to bake when it was all over, seen in above photo, celebrating the 30 years I have been alive, not the 30 hours I spent fasting before making a five-cake chocolate extravaganza covered in a gallon of hot ganache and eaten with more champagne than you can shake a stick at. Also, I should advise that fasts are not recommended for women (if only I had known! So much more time for cake!)
***Conclusion: cake > fast > job.