porcelain unicorns

“I am just fed up. I feel this job does not reflect my true self or give breathing space to my real aspirations. I could do so much more out of it than in it.”
My mum keeps underlining words on a book she’s been reading for the last fifteen years, in the breaks between work and housekeeping. She is pretending not to pay too much attention, her eyes completely focused on the text; but I know she is a hundred and fifty percent there, looking at me from an angle of her frames only known to her.
“It’s just slavery, at this stage” I continue. “My ideas need air like fire needs air! I know I could realise them to the full of their power, if only I had more time and more brainspace left. I need to be free, I need to feel free.”
Mum keeps underlining.
“It’s that easy” I conclude. “Just a neat fracture and a fresh start.”
“My poor little porcelain unicorn” mumbles mum.
She is now looking at me with the unsympathethic look of a woman who had to work forty years in a job she hated but which paid well in order to get me through school, college, university, sports, music, and all the vanity fair; until now, where I got where she thought I would be safe. But no, I am feeling special, I am feeling different, I need to un-harness myself from the safety of what I have reached and flee, fly, fight.

“Do you think I had a frustrating life?”
“Well, er, you certainly did not enjoy one single bit of your work.”
“Work is not life, my dear. Life is what comes after it. We work to live; we don’t live to work. You have to be patient: we all have to. No job is perfect.”
“Some are.”
“Name the last person you’ve heard saying ‘Oh I love my job so dearly, I’d like to stay in it forever’.”
“Fine. But I could really give more, somewhere else. My creative force stagnates when I need to obey to commands.”
“Here’s a little secret, my dear: you’ll always have somebody commanding you, inside or outside of your office. The manager, the taxman, the policeman, the teacher, the bus driver: they all had or will have power on you, at some point.”
“So what do you suggest? Staying there to rot till they move me to my coffin?”
Mum goes back to her underlining.
“You could stop trying being a unicorn and go down the firefighting line instead. Get to the building you are assigned, with the gear you are assigned, and be a fire tamer in there. How about that?”
“There’s hardly anything heroic about tapping buttons on a keyboard” I mumble grumpy.
“Never say never” says mum, and she start whistling the notes of Me and Bobby McGee, where the song goes “freedom is just another word for/nothing else to lose…”.

The day after, I receive an email from somebody called Sheila. Sheila is one of our thousands collaborators; she apologises for being late in completing her task.
Sorry” she writes “but my son had a motorbike accident and has a bad spinal injury. I am a bit off the roof at the moment, so not sure when I can go back to normal biz.
Sheila is very business-minded, so I am about to send her something equally business-minded. But Janis Joplin starts singing in my head: “get it while you can…. yeah! get it while you can…”
Sheila” I write”so sorry to hear about your son. I hope all will go ok. I hope you will be ok. Don’t worry about anything else.“.
Sheila calls me the day after, and says thank you, in a stiff voice, for making her feel she was not forgotten. Her son will have an operation soon; she prays for the best.

I hate it when my mom is right.



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