Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What Would You Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail?

I have been preoccupied with one particular thought lately:  what do I really want to do with my life?  No idea.  Keep coming up with zero.  Or a million things.  All at the same time.   Ironic, really, that after establishing what the outside world views as a successful career,  chosen only after my quarter-life crisis, which itself came after dabbling in various jobs and careers after college, I'm still not sure what I want to do. Shouldn't I know that by now?  And if I missed it this badly before, how can I be sure that I won't shoot for something else and still not hit on what IT really is.

So, I read.  And think.  Nearly all of the million or so books and articles on the topic (it's a common concern, apparently) ask the question, "what would you do if you knew you could not fail"?  Other forms include: "what would you do if you won the lottery" and "what would you do if you didn't have to answer to anyone else".  I was able to come up with an answer to the second question -- I know that if I won the lottery, I would drop everything, travel around the world, invite my loved ones to join me in various countries, and write about it.  Somehow amid the lottery winnings, I would also gain the ability to write without blinding, body-binding anxiety, so it would all work out.  But only tonight in doing exercises for another book did I realize that my answer to the first question is the same.  My escape fantasy, at least as expressed through the majority of books I read, is doing exactly that -- dropping everything to do an all-consuming, big year-long exciting project -- some exciting task, travel, re-do your house, make something, do it big -- and then write about it.   The writing about it, is, I thought, the way that I justify the larger project because it could make money.  But if I won the lottery, why would I need more money?  The writing serves a larger purpose.  It's informing others about what I did -- sharing the human experience.  It's inspiring others to pursue their dreams. It's sharing my knowledge and experiences, so that they can learn from my mistakes. It's teaching.  It's also legitimizing the big project itself.  I can't travel or create just for myself (so says the psyche) but I can if it has a larger purpose.

I think the fantasy is still so seductive because I'm young and carefree, at least in relation to where I will be later.  I feel like my years of being able to entertain such ideas are passing me by, quickly.  I'm already too tied down, with a husband, condo, golden retriever, parents, in-laws and career that wouldn't understand their being left behind.  Or am I?  Perhaps they would be more understanding than I give them credit for.  Like everything in life, I bet they would surprise me.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Finishing What I Started

I made a list of goals for myself for 2011.  One of them was to finish what I start.  I'm one of those people who picks up a new hobby, only to decide it's not quite right just after I bought all the equipment.  Yes, I'm looking at you, roller skates and bag of decoupage materials.

Anyway, even though it's early March, I'm going to work on finishing the reverb10 prompts from last December.  There are only 31 of them.  I can do this.  I can finish.

December 8 – Beautifully Different.  Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

I take pride in being funny; amusing my friends through dry wit and well-timed quips.  I really like music.  I have an encyclopedic knowledge about the Beatles, having spent my teen years mostly indoors reading biographies and listening to old records.  But I also love to go out dancing to 90s hip hop, and lament the fact that I never do that anymore.  I think it's important to never lose one's sense of fun.  I have my own muppet -- designed by my husband to look like Scully from the X Files -- and keep her on the shelf above my desk at my very serious job.  I like the juxtaposition, if for no other reason than it reminds me to smile.

December 9 – Party.  What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

My wedding!  It was such a beautiful, joyous day.  Honestly, I don't think Boston has ever had such great weather -- it rained all week leading up to the day, then was swelteringly hot for the week to follow, but that day... perfection.  We got married outdoors, in a pavilion along the Charles River, amid all the ducks, duck boats, and kayaks.  Weddings are usually joyous, but ours was off the charts.  We'd gone through so much to get there. So Much. But we made it!  I remember looking around the tent after our first dance and marveling at the fact that not only did I know everyone there, literally all of my favorite people were in one room.  Since the wedding, I have learned that a lot of my friends from different areas of my life have now become friends themselves.  Isn't that the dream? 

The food was amazing -- we picked a normal wedding food station (fancy schmancy beef), a carribean station (my favorite: plaintains and jerk sauce), and the runaway crowd favorite, a southern station (featuring mac and cheese and fried chicken).  Plus a full desert course, a brownie bar, and chocolate chip cookies on lolipop sticks.  Insanely good.  So were the tunes.  Since we are basically Harry and Sally, we danced the first dance of our marriage to "It Had To Be You."  I got to dance with all my girls to songs that will forever remind me of them.  I broke my bustle dancing to "Now That We Found Love," in honor of the movie Hitch.  I watched the Texans from my side jump right in to the horah, and sailed above the crowd with my new husband in a very precarious feeling chair.  Then we ended the night with "In My Life" and, since it was a win in Boston, "Dirty Water."

December 10 – Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

I kicked off 2010 by moving back across the country for 3 weeks to take care of my mom as she went through a mastectomy and other breast cancer treatment.  She's fine now (thanks for asking), and we knew she'd be fine then, too.  But even though I have a very serious job, with very serious demands, and often ridiculous hours, I knew I simply had to be there.  I hadn't seen her since July, just before her diagnosis, and spent far too many nights just crying together on the phone, while I wished I could do more for her.  So the minute she asked for help, I said yes. Bought my plane ticket, and then went to my boss to say that I'd like to work for a place that lets people do this.  He didn't hestitate (bless him!) and stood by my side while HR had apoplexy trying to figure out how to coordinate a leave that wasn't maternity leave.  I'm so glad I went. When I got back, I bit the bullet, and even amid wedding planning, got myself tested for the breast cancer gene.  I am so proud of my mother, but sometimes even more proud of me.  I'll never have to go through the horrors I saw her go through.  I feel so empowered to get to say that, and really mean it.