Falling From Lofty Heights

Timi Yeseibo on Loss

We are all dust passing through the air, the difference is, some are flying high in the sky, while others are flying low. But eventually, we all settle on the same ground. ― Anthony Liccione

To reinvent yourself in your late-thirties, you work with a job coach. She will turn the years you spent chauffeuring your children to and fro school and swimming, and ballet, and football, the months you spent volunteering to cut out hearts and read poetry to classes of fidgety children, and the days you spent  hosting meetings for a diverse group of women, into credible examples of leadership and teamwork. On paper. A resume that she has to work on you to believe.

You believe. And you can tell every interviewer about yourself, stitching the holes in the years between your first degree and the present in a perfect line.

Still I did not get the first job I applied for. Or the second or the third. Each time I finished strong as a close second, I vowed to eliminate the words consolation prize, if I were God for a day. The ability to go from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm is what Winston Churchill described as success. I did not feel like a success, but I tweaked my resume and wrote more cover letters.

With bills mounting, I prayed, “God, anything. I will do anything, even hospice care.”

Then one day while waiting at the bus stop, I saw a woman I used to know in orange overalls with the insignia of the town on her chest and back, using a pick-up tool to clear rubbish—empty cans, funnel-shaped cardboards with remains of mayonnaise and patat, and a lone pink mitten—from the road, trash bag in tow.

It was not the harshness of the sun that kept her head down, spring was just emerging from winter; the sun had not yet roused itself properly. It was shame. She had lost her former status just as I had. She could not and would not raise her head to say hello, even though I no longer had a car. Had she not seen that my coat, fraying at the cuffs and hem, was one from a few seasons back? I looked at my bus pass as though there was information on it that I had not yet read, and I let her name die on my lips.

I was no longer so sure about my prayer. “Okay God,” I prayed, “not just anything.”

I landed a clerical job, which I would have rejected when I graduated with honours fifteen years earlier, a mindless job that did not even require the kind of critical thinking I used when I played Mahjong Titans.

One evening, I took a file full of reports to my boss, a woman in her mid-twenties, whose jawline was just discernible from her neck. Colleagues whispered that she was a casualty of one of those expensive diet plans. She barely glanced at the reports before signing. She had come to trust my work, and she commented on my level of accuracy.

“You’re better than this,” she said, looking at me, searching for my story as if I had written it behind my eyes. “You should find another job.”

“I know,” I whispered, as if it was our secret, “it’s just a matter of time.”

I no longer worry about bills and I use my brain to do the things I love. I saw a man in his fifties begging for alms. His pale blue shirt tucked neatly in navy trousers, set him apart. Although his eyes were weary, he stood as though he had steel in his spine.

I am seldom asked, who are you, but I am always asked, what do you do? It is easy to confuse the two.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2017

 

Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/en/levitation-young-woman-in-the-air-1884366/

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

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35 thoughts on “Falling From Lofty Heights

  1. “The ability to go from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm is what Winston Churchill described as success. ”
    This line did it for me.

    I missed this space and I am humbled to be associated with a wordsmith of repute. #respect

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely piece, Timi. I can relate with this perfectly. And in a country like Nigeria, this is the reality many brilliant minds and personalities have as their own. Sometimes, you second-guess yourself and ask questions that never really sink away from sight. Who am I? What do I really want? Why can’t I get the exact thing I want? How did life move so fast without my dreams and projections keeping pace? Did I make a big mistake in making my choices?

    But we in Nigeria have a saying: once there is life, there is hope. And sometimes, hope is enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such an insightful piece. The kind of shame that would accompany a loss of status is something I can understand (even though I have not been there).

    This last bit however makes all the difference… “I am seldom asked, who are you, but I am always asked, what do you do? It is easy to confuse the two.”

    If you see your status as what defines your worth, then something is already fundamentally wrong with your self-esteem.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is certainly a thought-provoking piece. What we do should certainly not define who we are, but I suppose sometimes the lines may be blurred. I think as long as we keep on moving a good man/woman can never be down for too long

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I also can relate to having to reinvent myself after a job loss, Timi. My father was a pioneer at this, however. He returned to school at the age of fifty, and after earning a master’s degree began a new career as a teacher.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I won’t say I can personally relate, but I have seen some people who are close to me fall from heights; and I must say not everyone finds the willpower to reinvent themselves. It takes a lot to readjust.
    Thank you for sharing, will definitely add this to my box of life experiences that shape my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it takes a lot to readjust and believe you can reinvent. I’ve condensed a few years of my life into the 500-600 word limit for the series. But it’s enough to say that I did not do it alone. I had God. And once I made the decision, other people came on board to help.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If one believes then yes, reinvention becomes possible. But some people never find that strength to go on. They give up

        Thank you for sharing your story and for finding the strength to make that decision without wavering through difficult times

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I can relate with this in more ways even I would want to admit. It’s the first thing I’ve read this morning besides reading the morning headlines from the tv. I feel like this speaks about me, rock bottom became the solid foundation in which I rebuilt my life. It’s heart warming that someone out there is able to understand and relate too. Thank you for this beautiful post..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome Mitchy. Thank you for your comment. As I wrote and rewrote, I hoped that this piece would resonate with some readers.

      “…. rock bottom became the solid foundation in which I rebuilt my life.” Ah … now you can encourage others that rock bottom can mean: new beginning!

      Well done.

      Like

  8. Intriguing! Leaves a lot of room for thought. Well done. I have decided to read them every Sunday instead of piling them up! Keep writing for us!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Beautiful piece, Timi. Especially liked the last paragraph: “I am seldom asked, who are you, but I am always asked, what do you do? It is easy to confuse the two.”

    It reminds me of a poignant quote: “If who you are is what you do . . . then who are you when you don’t?”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for sharing Nancy. Very poignant indeed. In my opinion, everyone needs to be able to answer or start looking for the answer … Our self-esteem depends on it.
      Thanks!

      Like

  10. I’ve definitely been there. I had to swallow my pride and work at a fast food hamburger restaurant before God allowed a former co-worker to contact me out of the blue. I almost turned the position down because of who was offering it, and because of pride. Thank God I didn’t because it was the pivotal point in my personal and professional life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t it interesting who God sends to help us? We are wise when we do not discount a gift just because of the way it is packaged.

      Where I live, there’s a popular saying: No condition is permanent. It helps people see hardship as temporary.

      Thanks for sharing your experience. Someone may read your comment and be further encouraged.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Love this piece! I have been there too. Loss of status is really hard to bear. Once you go through the process of reinvention and brave the fire of the forge you will be the stronger for it, but I am not telling you something you don’t already know.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Lovely piece, Timi. I could relate to this on many levels. Since college, I’d always had a safe and secure job and then one day, I didn’t. It was a stressful time that in the end, proved to be the best thing that could have ever happened to me.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Very nicely written and easily relatable. It doesn’t matter at what stage or manner we’ve all had to eat our own humble pie denying we were once there because of where we are today or where we would be tomorrow is like denying we are human.

    Thanks for sharing, our own stories maybe slightly different but there are similarities like your theme for livelytwist says ‘life happens to all of us!

    Liked by 2 people

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