The Upside of Under-Employment

Vineyard Haven Harbor

With the job market in such a state I’ve been taking it easy lately; I freelance here and there, but mostly I’m getting into things I never thought I’d have time for…like gardening, psychology, and being more politically active. I find I enjoy being this person, someone who perhaps does less and lives more. But let’s face it, summer in the city is hard on everyone. The streets smell of garbage, the heat is brutal, and the air conditioning is so powerful you get a summer cold. A vacation is still a vacation, whether you’re working hard or hardly working.

Vineyard Haven Harbor

I started mine just over a week ago and I expected to be on my way home today, but I’ve been invited to extend my stay. It’s been beautiful here and I’ve been taking advantage of rare opportunities. I arrived unable to swim except for the dog-paddle and as of this morning I have mastered the crawl and am working on the breast stroke. I’ve always wanted to take private swimming lessons to get over my fear of being under water (I fell in a pool when I was little and wasn’t exactly rescued in a flash), but for some reason finding an instructor never rose to the top of my list. Last week I met one on the beach and the next thing you know I own goggles and I’m learning to blow bubbles through my nose. Yesterday I learned to sail with very little wind and to tie a rope to a cleat. With such revelations in store I can’t see why I should hurry home.

They say artists produce their best work during recessions; no one is buying so they’re left alone to do as they wish. In the same way I think this is an extraordinary time for some of us to consider what it means to have more time and, for some, seemingly less essential ambitions. You know, like enjoying a good thing for as long as it lasts.


Hillery eventually learned not to say everything that came to mind. Some were too good not to write down.

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