I’m staring. Despite the culture convention against it. Studying the unemployed man. What the hell does he do? All day? I watch closely.
His shorts are too loose. Even with a belt. Got them at Goodwill. In the winter. Cut the calves off.
What does he do all day? Slack line, a forkful of apple pie, and another one, messages a skateboard friend about fixing his dreads, website design, roll baby in the grass, tell dog no, keep telling dog no, teach yoga. The unemployed man is me.
Technically I’m not unemployed today. Yoga’s paid. But 7am sunrise just doesn’t feel like work. Inhale, straighten spine, exhale, fold over right leg. It feels good, restorative. Enlivening.
The unemployed man makes a sign. Black marker on cardboard. DIY Facebook. Stands by the road. Sign says: where do taxes go? He’s not smiling. He’s listening. He’s waiting for answers. I can’t answer him. I walk over and take a photo. There’s glare. Where do taxes go? I can’t say. I’ve learned that our teeth go to the tooth fairy. And that our souls go to Heaven. And the plate of cookies goes into Santa’s belly. And the carrot into Rudolph’s. But where do taxes go?
Last night on the toilet. Bullshit taxes, I said. Mouse said oh stop. They pay for roads, she said. We have no meaningful choice about taxes, I said. I pee sitting down. Less urine ricochet. Less cleaning. You use the roads, Mouse said.
I checked the numbers. 25% of federal tax revenue goes to Social Security. Fine, taking care of olds. Another 25% goes to medicare, medicaid. Fine, taking care of sick and olds. But. I’ve been sick, and I don’t have health insurance. Me, Mouse and the munchkin are under the federal poverty line. We make less than 20k. And no health insurance.
Never mind the tax rant. My point was. Mouse and me should open a cafe. A cafe with herbal teas and tinctures. We should open one, I said to Mouse. Like a Lion’s Mane tea for depression. A holy basil tea for anxiety. A cocktail of kombucha and lemon leaf for mood? Off-grid, I said. No taxes. Turn off the light, Mouse said.
The unemployed man. What the hell does he do? He holds up a sign with his query. His comment.
I’ve been writing about my anxiety. People holding the baby. Anxiety is proportional to time spent holding. Which makes family the object of my ire. Fraught with frazzled emotional dread ends. Not deer season yet, I’m hunting solutions.
What is the unemployed man’s solution?
Logic. This is my Hail Mary with 5 seconds on the clock. Never works. Kill the anxiety by recognizing that in the end (five or ten or fifty years down the line) my momentary stress will seem silly and insignificant. Barely a blip. Perspective shrinks stress to a zero. But still. How do you get there? Meditate on death? I hosted my own funeral two days ago.
But logic has it’s persuasive limits.
One last thing about the unemployed man.
Last night, mump and me were walking back from Mouse’s soccer game. Pushing the stroller up a hill, we were eye to eye. Coming off a particularly good bottle session. Ellie vvvved and chammered and hallooed. Tell me what you think, I said. Tell me your thoughts. Then I said. I’ll teach you how to write one day, little Mump. After I said that, I saw the words scroll by like a stock ticker, and I thought wow. I thought woah. One day I’ll teach Ellie to write. And she’ll ask me why. Or I’ll explain it anyway. Why write?
Put fuzzy feelings into words. Such a gift. If you share it. Open someone else’s eyes. Heart. Bridge the gap. Because sharing begets sharing. Stream of consciousness writing begets stream of consciousness writing. And then streams merge into rivers, rivers into oceans.
It’s a long hill, so I was still pushing. At the top, again I said wow. Thought of my wife’s friends from college who’ve had babies recently, and my sister who has a munch, and all the young parents I’ve met in the last few months. Love their kids soo much. These kids, Ellie’s peers, are going to be the Most Loved Generation. Maybe every parent feels this way. Loves their kids. But I think my love for Ellie, I won’t speak for the other parents, comes from wound. From un-love. From hurt. From sadness. And has committed me existentially against these things. Or, maybe I’ve just shifted focus. Away from 401k, or classy college. Back to the basics. Love. And how to undo anxiety, sans adderral or pharma.
I’m watching an unemployed man. Whose gainfully unpaid. Prophetically smiley. And wild as the wind.