Ever since Kris Kristoffersen wrote "Me and Bobby MeGee" and Janis Joplin sang it almost 40 years ago,with all the passion one woman can put into verse, I've held the song so close that it has reverberated in my mind on a daily basis. That' because I thought I had a complete handle on the message until I was downsized from the job I loved more than any other in my adult life. My vision of freedom changed in less than twelve hours.
As the director of Corporate Communications for a huge multinational pharmaceutical company, I was responsible for the production of five publications for the in-house and external site populations, as well as large business issues meetings for which I would write scripts and produce films about the company's sites, all over the world. It was a heady time for me in a huge, fulfilling job; I traveled regularly, wrote about the most fascinating elements of evolving I spent ten years, often working on weekends because I wanted to edit the film to perfection that I shot with a cinematographer, reproduce the slides I needed to accompany the speeches I'd write for senior management, and line edit the magazines and newsletters that went all over the world. I'd often work 12 hours at a time and never walk out of the building, tired. That's what love of a job did for me.
Literally overnight, my company announced that they had merged with another huge pharmaceutical and they became a company with an unpronouceable name. In my minds, it translated to "NOWANTUS."
From that moment on, until months later, when "the elders" were dumped out of our office park, I tried with every effort in me to replicate my job, its benefits and laudable salary. But as a woman, who had reach age 50, I wasn't wanted at similar businesses, despite my experience and ability. With all honesty, they didn't want to pay me what I earned or give me the benefits I sorely needed to support my entire family. They wanted younger people, much younger folk who they could pay much less and provide a smaller benefit package.
Kris and Janis Joplin taught me something in that song that I never knew until time made sense of it. Kris wrote: "Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose." And I added, "That's where NOWANTUS left me." my favorite song became counterintuitive.
So I listened to that song, over and over, for the first time in my life, wondering if freedom, really and truly, is just another word for nothing left to lose. Afterall, I was free of my work, but that didn't constitute freedom from responsibility for me. I had a chronically sick husband who could no longer work, and two daughters in college. My house alone cost more money than I could afford to spend without my salary. And my family? Where was that money coming from? So in the parlance of "Me and Bobby McGee," that's what NOWANTUS left me.
But the song changed from favorite to anthem status. I had to realize that feeling good was good enough for me....good enough for me and my Bobby MeGee.
Throughout the next years, I went on to hold down two, often three jobs in order to barely cover my expenses, but I learned that I was able to move on and in it's own way, that was freedom. I loved two of the three jobs and figured out how to live more simply, without acoutrements.
It's been that way for years now. The freedom of knowing that I can do this. My mother in law passed away two years ago, and left us enough money with which to manage, along with what I earn. I no longer have to hold down three jobs; I only have one. I write novels based on the experiences of one lone woman with a heartful of love for others, who has experienced some tricky times. Makes for great fiction. That's what my particular type of freedom was all about. I can express myself in a way that allows me to sell books. Now it all makes sense.
Before then, I really had nothing left to lose and now I've found that feeling good is easy, Lord, when I stopped singing the blues, and feeling good is good enough for me.
Me and my Bobby McGee.
La la la la la la la la....Na na na na na na na na...Janis, Kris and me, Yeh.