It’s been a while, but the time between my last posting and this one has been fruitful. I’ll grant the fact that “fruitful” isn’t a great word in this context, but I’m going to go with it at least for the time being. Anyway, the fruitful part comes as a result of a kind of personal and professional reset (hence the post title). There has been a lot to reset by the way.
At work, well, now I am doing something that I think I do well, and I’m working with good people. In many ways, it feels as if a kind of weight has been lifted off my shoulders. So much of what we are taught by society at large is that we need to always be moving ahead…getting a better job (where “better” means more money and more responsibility) …earning that high title…having more stuff. Yet that’s not where I find myself now. In fact, by some accounts, I have moved behind. I actually had that high title I had once dreamed about, and lots of responsibility, with people constantly coming to me for answers. Now? Not so much. And I am better off.
I know, I can probably quote some learned sage about ego and stuff like that, but to what end? For me, well, this is much more personal and practical. Personal in the sense that, having gotten the position I had wanted, I realized that it made me miserable. I could do the work, but I wasn’t happy doing the work. And quite frankly, many of the people I was working with weren’t happy doing their work either. I reported to someone I like and respect, but that wasn’t enough to overcome the inordinate amount of space the job took in my head. In a very real sense, that job was becoming who I was; even when I was not physically there I was almost always mentally there. This was not good. On the practical end of things, the pandemic amplified just about the worst of everything.
We all can take for granted that, as the Good Book says*, there is a time and season for everything. For me, well at least in hindsight, there have been times when it was important to be hyper-focused on work and “getting ahead”. Yet, even during those times, there was this little voice in the back of my head saying, “Hey you, no matter what happens, you’ve already come a long way for a kid from a housing project”. Most of the time though I just got very good at ignoring that little voice.
Fast forward to now and I’m hoping this has all been, as Hunter S. Thompson noted…
"No sympathy for the devil; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride...and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well...maybe chalk it up to forced consciousness expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.”
The idea of “forced consciousness expansion” is pretty darn brilliant. We all have that in our lives, well at least if we take the time to reflect that is. Anyway, my life over the past year has absolutely been an exercise in this forced consciousness expansion. I can see now that I have needed events to unfold the way they have, as some things in our lives simply don’t just work on a purely academic level…they must be experienced to be learned. Chief among those lessons for me: What we do for a living can’t be so over-sized that it actually begins to take over the whole “living” part. It all sounds so very simple in retrospect, but yet almost bruising in real-time.
From here, well, where? For the moment, I’m just trying to step back and learn what I can about what’s been happening with me over the past year. I’m also taking the time to do something I think I am pretty good at, namely thinking about my longer-term future. That’s one of the drawbacks for me, by the way, when current events end up renting out too much space in my head…I just go into this survival mode, and I basically stop thinking about five years from now or even tomorrow for that matter. It’s a kind of Eckart Tolle thing gone to the extreme, where the frenetic nature of the present moment becomes over-powering. While I have no illusions about living a stress-free life (professional or otherwise) now and going forward, I at least feel as if I now have some breathing space.
Speaking of the future, the way I see things, I’m going to work for at least another 5 years. Maybe a bit longer if I am enjoying what I am doing at the time. From there, well, it will be time to be part-time at something or other. Maybe I can just pet cats at a shelter. Regardless, I can now see that happening, and the older I get, the faster times seems to flow, so five years could very well be the blink of an eye.
All of the above is cautioned on the fact that I am utterly horrible at predicting things. In actuality who the heck knows where I will be tomorrow, let alone in my 60’s. This, by the way, is all the more reason why it’s a good thing that my life feels like it has a bit more balanced now. None of us gets do-overs in life, and none of us gets out of life alive. What we need to do is to make the best of what we are given, and maybe get smarter as we get older. If every once in a while that requires some forced consciousness expansion, well, so be it…we just need to hang on until the ride is over.