Walking toward the sun

It’s been two weeks since I was laid off. Now it seems “more real” to me than it was right after that. Yesterday, I visited the career service of my university in Hamilton to have a “drop-in clinic” session. While I was waiting for my session in the waiting area after signing up, I found a ladybug on a table in front of me. Ladybug is tentomushi in Japanese, which literally means “sun bug”. If I understand correctly, ladybug is called “sun bug” in Japan because they are always walking toward the sun. The fact is that they always walk upward to get to a tip of something, like grass or branch, because they are not good at flying out of a flat surface. Flying is more efficient way to get to a different point, and they keep walking upward to move on.

As I mentioned in an old post, I don’t like so-called positive thinking for some reasons. First of all, I don’t like typical positive thinkers’ dualism as seen in their typical argument like “thinking ‘half empty’ is negative and bad, thinking ‘half full’ is positive and good”. Positive thinking may make you feel better in an apparently bad situation, but I prefer to see everything as it is (though it is virtually impossible) and to think what I can do from there realistically whether the glass is half full or half empty. It’s so easy to be depressed when people are unemployed, as I had experienced two years ago and as I am experiencing right now. Some people may tell me “think positively. This can be a good opportunity for a better job”, which may be true, actually. But I still prefer seeing the current situation as it is whether it is positive or negative and think realistically.

Through the counseling yesterday, however, I found that I often think negatively. I often hesitate to write my accomplishments on my resume, believe or not. The logic behind that is that I don’t want to talk about bad things about other people on my resume; what I did was to make a bad situation “normal”, and in order to tell it I have to describe how bad other people had been. What I found yesterday is that I only need to tell how much I improved something, whether I saw it as from bad to normal or from normal to better. This must be nothing special for many other people, but for me it is a different way of thinking. My viewpoint at work had been negative while I could have seen everything as it was. Now, let’s recall what I have done so far from a different viewpoint, and think how I can describe it as my accomplishments. Recently I found that this is a good opportunity for me to re-think of myself and what I have done from a different perspective, or from the perspective that I used to have but forgot because of the depressing job. I may look like a ladybug for some people. I am only looking for a practical place to take off, but it may look like a positive thinker walking toward the sun. Whether it is realistic or positive, I need to keep walking anyways.

By the way, about a century ago, a famous feminist in Japan stated “元始、女性は太陽であった (originally, women were the sun)”. According to her, it makes sense to call ladybug “sun bug”, doesn’t it?

Memory of Coffee

Nearly three years ago I wrote about my old-fashioned manual coffee grinder. Now it is more than ten years old, and cannot grind coffee evenly. I don’t think I will throw it away even if it does not work properly because I have developed attachment for it. It is actually one of two manual coffee grinders I brought from Japan, and today I cleaned the other one, which is more “stylish” and has not been used as much as the old-fashioned one, to use it from now on. I need a manual coffee grinder to brew a cup of coffee which satisfies me.

My passion for coffee dates back to my young adult days. It was when I had worked for my first company for about a couple of years. One day, I was going to have a small party with my university friends after work. We were meeting at a train station, but in those days we did not have google map and could not estimate travel time accurately. When I got to the train station it was still too early and I had to kill time. In Japan, in front of or around every major train station, there is shotengai, which is usually translated to “shopping street” in English. But typical shotengai is different from what people in North America imagine from “shopping street”; it is usually a busy place, streets are typically narrow, they rarely sell luxuries but mainly sell commodities, and shops are generally not stylish. At the train station, I thought there might be a coffee shop or something to kill time in the shotengai, and walked around there. After a while, unexpectedly, on the second floor of a small building I found a sophisticated coffee shop which did not match the shotengai atmosphere. It did not need to be an elegant place only to kill time, but I was interested in the fine-looking cafe. I went upstairs and took a window-side table. There was a couple of university students near me, and they were talking like “is it really OK for us to be in such a nice place? Can we afford this?” At that time I was a working adult dressed in a suit and quietly thought “I can afford this”. The coffee they served were more expensive than typical ones, and I found the price “reasonable”. It tasted so good, and gave me a nice feeling. Then I looked down outside the window. There were busy people walking on the narrow street. Suddenly they looked like a bunch of emotionless poor people to me. But the fact is that I was only one of them until several minutes ago. I asked myself “what makes me different from them?” Then I thought “does this cup of coffee makes me different from them?” The answer is “no”, obviously.

At that time I could not find anything special that made me myself. When I graduated from my university and started working for the company, I had a sort of future vision. But as a couple of years passed by, I gradually became aware of the gap between the vision and the reality. Since the moment when I though for one second that a cup of nice coffee makes me different from other people, I had thought what I could really do to retain myself. Eventually I decided to go to a developing country to do a volunteer job, and ended up coming to Canada to pursue my dream job. Since that moment, coffee has been something special for me.

Now what? It’s been a week since I was laid off, but I still have no concrete strategy for job hunting. I might be taking time to accept the reality, but one week must have been enough. I know that when doing helpless job hunting it is so easy to lose myself. Let’s sit back and think of it, with a cup of nice coffee in my room. I may need to recall the feeling I had in the elegant coffee shop, but what I see outside now is not a crowd of people but the sky, like this.

Blue sky and white clouds seen from my apartment room

Business as usual

It’s good to start a weekday morning with a cup of carefully brewed coffee with a ceramic coffee dripper. Why can I afford this? Because I was laid off yesterday morning. Since a long time ago we had been aware that “some” people would be laid off. On Monday this week, we got to know that it would be 108 people and a list of 96 of those was posted right away. In Wednesday morning, I was told in person that I was one of the other 12. Some tens of minutes later, I was at home. It’s just business as usual.

Did what didn’t kill me make me stronger? As I often mention, I know that no one reads this blog and I write this for myself. It’s good to know what I though and felt in the past. I remember that I wrote what I felt when I lost a job in an old post, and read it again now. At that time, I was so depressed. So far I am not that much depressed but I don’t know whether it is because I know that unemployment does not kill me or because I am now taking time to accept the reality. Whichever the reason is, I will start looking for a new job again anyways. Why not right now? Because I need rest for now.

Yesterday right after being sent home, I decided to go to my favourite place in Toronto, ROM, Royal Ontario Museum, instead of being depressed at home. As I wrote in a previous post, ROM is one of places where I can find I am still myself. Being unemployed is not a good thing, obviously, but this could be a good period to think of myself. One good thing now is, as I wrote in another previous post, that I can see the vast sky with little obstacle from my room, which is very different situation from when I was unemployed in the past, although the rent is not kind for a guy without a job.

After visiting ROM, I walked around the water front, and found this view.


What I thought of then is an old Japanese song that I mentioned in an old post, which goes;

Those who don’t have money, come to me. I don’t have either, but don’t worry. Look at the blue sky, white clouds. It’ll work out someday.
Those who don’t have a job, come to me. I don’t have either, but don’t worry. Look at that burning sunset. It’ll work out someday.

I hope everything will work out someday. Fingers crossed.