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May Day! MayDay!

It’s been an odd May 1, traditional day of anonymous flower baskets on doorknobs; international unionists or militarists or immigration activists in the streets; exuberant dancing with ribbons around a pole; and the moment, in Wisconsin, when the lilac buds are visible though tightly furled. This morning, I got laid off. They called it a reduction in force but, oddly, for me it’s the opposite. I’m feeling quite forceful.

Watching the madly irrational stock market, the hysterical Congress shoving billions at the banks as if feeding a fire, the flailing executives of this corporation and that, I can’t say I’m surprised about the layoff. For once, I’m part of a trend.

What does surprise me is that anybody’s hiring, but clearly there are jobs — look at or craigslist. What are those people thinking? According to a recent New Yorker[1], those people may be betting their economic futures on a strange effect of hard times: A company that’s just part of the pack, but resists the urge to cut staff, advertising, and new product development during hard times has the chance to become preeminent when times are good again. Of course, that company also has the chance to disappear into bankruptcy, paper-shredding, and the sale of furniture.

Companies have a lot more protection in this country than most individuals do. But this daring approach — daring to act positively, reject fear, and keep growing — may work for individuals, too.

As a person with a long, intense, convoluted relationship with fear, I can’t explain why I’m not in a panic today. (Maybe later.) Today I’m looking at the box I’m now outside of. What was I thinking?


Later, I cried. I knew the illusion of safety was always just that. I knew how fast everything could change. My grandmother went from being a maiden who wore out three pairs of dancing shoes in a summer to a mother who sold her wedding rings and padded her coat with newspapers and dusted, over and over, the surfaces that in an hour would be covered again with dustbowl dust. She was lucky to hold onto something to dust. Her sister, who kept her job through the hard times, mailed her checkbook home so the crowded household could eat.

When I told my brother I’d dreamed that Sage and I were living in Mom’s (damp) basement, he said, “You’ll have to. We’ll all be in the guest room.” He, his wife, and their kids still have their jobs, but they know things could go either way.

I’ve read that the U.S. population takes more drugs for anxiety and depression, per capita, than any other country in the world. (People elsewhere may be as sad and worried, but unable to get or afford the drugs.) What will happen now, as the fear buried in us for a generation or two starts blowing around us again? Is there a certain relief after the worst happens? What constitutes the worst?

Oddly, I’m thinking that the worst, right now, is to waste a minute on fear. If I go there, I miss today’s spring air, the changing light, the funny weasel-wording of the moneylenders, the chance to think freely in all directions while saving my resume online or gathering feathers, candles, shells, and seeds.


  1. Surowiecki, James. “The Financial Page: Hanging Tough,”The New Yorker, 4/20/2009, p. 35.

Graphics Credits

  • help wanted and lilac, © 2009 Feral. All rights reserved.
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MatriFocus Cross-Quarterly
is a seasonal web journal (zine) for Goddess Women and others interested in Goddess Lore and Scholarship, Goddess Religion (ancient and contemporary), Feminist Spirituality, Women's Mysteries, Paganism and Neopaganism, Earth-based Religions, Witchcraft, Dianic Wicca and other Wiccan Traditions, the Priestess Path, Goddess Art, Women's Culture, Women's Health, Natural Healing, Mythology, Female Shamanism, Consciousness, Community, Cosmology, and Women's Creativity.

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