Moments ago I stepped outside in my PJs and slippers just to drop some recycling into the bin and I was immediately transported to last April,May,June…on the AT. The outside gray sky, wet ground with some frozen snow settled here and there, the bone-chilling damp and cold ~ that “spring”-but-winter-isn’t-done-yet atmosphere. Initially, for a nano-second, it felt like a PTSD moment but then I (think) I smiled at the memory. Almost one year ago I was crawling from a tent in the cold, wet, gray woods to put my wet boots back on and stuff all my ‘earthly goods’ into my backpack and haul ass down a quiet, misty trail. I can’t believe it’s been almost a year.
Now I’m back in scrubs doing what I ran away from.
I was talking with a peer who is just a few years older than I ~ so we see things from the same perspective ~ who had, a week ago, told me she had been looking for work elsewhere but yesterday indicated she is no longer planning to leave. What she basically said was that its good money compared to other work and she’s ‘inside’ so she felt that, for a few years, she could manage to endure/tolerate the negative aspects of the job. I felt some relief when she said this for several reasons; she’s my age and of the same opinion about work/life and she’s “settling” for this job because it’s a paycheck that is more sustainable than one from somewhere else.
The brainwashing of this early 21st century is “you spend most of your week working, most of the better part of your life working, so you should enjoy the work you do, otherwise, you’ve spent most of your lifetime doing something you don’t enjoy.” The bombardment via social media, magazines, TV/movies, “studies show” articles about seeking a more fulfilling life ignites a dissatisfaction with our lives that leads us to believe that we can only be happy by doing work that aligns with our passions.
I don’t like to make comparisons but there is some value to it when assessing my situation; it’s helpful validation that sometimes, A LOT of times, life is mediocre and we do what we need to do so we can enjoy the other aspects of our life. Work comprises, on average, 36 hours of my week, in three days, that leaves quite a bit of my week for me to do whatever I want. I have to keep myself grounded so the pull of this movement to follow your dreams, live your life the way you want it, don’t just be a cog in the machine does not lure me from a stable, independent life-style to chasing vapor-dreams and trying to bottle the wind.
I am not condemning people who do find their passion and want to follow their bliss. If I had a passion and a vision of how to live within it, I’d do the same thing…or, I’d like to think I’d do the same thing. I admire people who have a love and follow it where it leads. That’s how progress is made, inventions, solutions to world problems, advancement and so on. But I consider myself part of the 80%. I’m filler. I am not exceptional. I have things and people that I enjoy. I do not have a “passion“. Because I recognize this, I need to be vigilant so I do not get caught in the emotional pull of dissatisfaction. I need to continue to be mindful of how good my life is but still be open to opportunities for more enjoyment while accepting responsibility for how I am to sustain my life.
The dichotomic and swift feelings and memories from one year ago reminded me that I did follow my heart and I experienced both euphoria and misery during my time on the trail. It was the best thing I did for myself, not because it was so enjoyable, it was NOT, but because it was so miserable and I found exceptional bliss in doing it ANYWAY.
Isn’t that life?
~ 10:18 Sun. 3/25/18