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Fri 09 Sep 2005

The Cliff Walk

Category : Commentary/CliffWalk.txt

I ought to be working. But I came across this book, The Cliff Walk (about a literature professor who's lost his job, who couldn't find another one even after a year, and how he's finding his way back as an unskilled labourer). I can't stop reading it.

"In all the jobs I had held across the years, from the first, picking vegetables when I was thirteen, I had never been fired. My first reaction was that some mistake has been made. They got the wrong guy. They don't know that Colleen has just finished making curtains for the house and painting the kids' rooms and we've just drained our savings account of its last nine thousand dollars to replace the cast iron pipes with copper and to strip the basement of asbestos. They got the wrong guy. They don't know that we've got a new baby coming, and that my father has a brain tumour that is taking over his life.

"But when it came to telling Colleen I had been fired, I never could seem to find the right time, or the right room in our house. There was always her with her pregnant belly and her faith in me, and there was me with my pink slip."

I read the reviews on Amazon - "Why didn't he have a sense of urgency, why did he cast all his hopes on finding another teaching job, why didn't he let his wife work?" - I think some of the complacency in the tone of some of the reviewers would disappear if they, themselves, were out of a job for some time. Because all these are just theory. In real life, you're like a frog being slowly boiled alive, and it takes all your strength just to wake up and jump out of the way.

I remember this guy, Bruce Whitred, that I met, who feels that we ought to live our life to the full, like it's a canvas on which we create the best that we can be - if only to show thanks to our Creator for having given us our life. But what if we're out of a job? And that there is nothing more important now than having the money? Do these ideals go out the window? Or do they get strengthened because they're being put to the test?

I think I can understand why the author, Don Snyder, didn't want his wife to find a job, why it can take him so long to find his way, and much else also of what I've been reading. The family becomes the one remaining constant when all else is changing, and you need to build your life back from it.

I think this is going to be an important theme in the years ahead. Losing a job, joining the "free agent nation". How do we accept the hand that we're dealt and still find the belief to be the best that we can be?

Posted at 12:27AM UTC | permalink

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