In a class I am teaching this semester we are using selections from the book (and television series) Roadtrip Nation. The series revolves around interviews conducted by a group recent college grads who set out on a cross-country trip interviewing folks about their career paths along the way.
One particular concept sticks out for me each time I watch the pilot episode (though I can never remember the name of the person who offers it). The question that sparks the comment has something to do with job satisfaction and “right fit” within a chosen profession. The executive being interviewed acknowledges that one isn’t always going to love every single task in their chosen vocation. Every day isn’t going to be the best day. Every project isn’t going to fall together like choirs of angels singing. There will be undesirable tasks, unpleasant days and unorganized projects. He stresses the importance of watching the trends and acknowledging the inevitable “dips” but determining if the overall arc is up or down. If it’s trending up, all is well. If the trend is sloped more downward, it’s probably time for a change.
I love this concept because it gives permission for the little dips. Those not as great days when you feel a bit itchy in your own skin. I love it because it acknowledges that movement in a positive direction isn’t always in a straight line, but it’s all good just the same.
So here’s hoping that things are trending up in your life today. Not perfect, just in the direction of.
Yesterday a friend casually mentioned getting “rush” tickets for a Virginia Rep show. Did you all know about this? How did I not? (Maybe it was on facebook.) Just in case you’re in the dark too, Virginia Rep is now selling tickets for same day shows, 2 hours before the show for a (significantly) reduced price! Here are the details.
So last evening we went to see Night Blooms, for nearly half price on a random Thursday night. While I love a planned evening at the theatre, there’s something equally sweet about a seeing a show I hadn’t even thought about over breakfast that morning. The show itself was well-written and well-acted. The relationships between characters were grey and complicated; the ending hopeful while resisting tying the whole thing up in big fluffy bow.
Today I was getting ready to sit down and write something about how awesome this one little unexpected surprise was, when I realized I’ve had a week full of them. From the big (seeing elk at the end of a long hike in Rocky Mountain National Park last Thursday) to the small (that delicious bowl of carrot, coconut, curry soup on Monday). I suppose it’s actually not so much about the awesome things, as it is the open-ness to seeing the awesome.
That stack of journals I brought home from my parent’s house included a sketchbook from the Drawing I class that I took my freshman year of college. Above are two fabulous examples of its contents. So that you can truly appreciate them, I will highlight two things: first, please notice the extremely sunken television screen in the first picture (showing Friends); second, please know that the rose in the second picture was not supposed to be an abstract (in my written reflection I lament how unrealistic it looks).
So drawing wasn’t really my thing. Also not really my thing – jewelry making, stained glass, pottery and crocheting. Oh, and also acting. And especially singing.
I don’t say that these things weren’t my thing because I didn’t like them or even really because I was totally devoid of skill in them. I enjoyed the art, craft and theatre classes I took in college and, in retrospect, was not terrible at any of these things (except the singing, the singing was/is really bad). The thing is, I lacked the passion for them to push myself to be better than average.
When I talk about my college career, I often say that I have a degree in Psychology with a side of Art, a splash of English Literature and a pinch of Theatre. I admit this proudly without an ounce of regret. Sure if I had figured out then that I wanted to be a writer I could have focused on that; maybe majored in journalism or gone on to get a MFA in creative writing. But here’s the thing, I’m not sure it would have worked.
Without that personal exploration in creativity that began in college and continued until I sat down to really focus on writing at age 29; I’m not sure I would be much of a writer. I’m not saying you can’t be a writer when you are young. You absolutely can. I’ve read and been inspired by some amazing young writers. I’m just not sure that I could have been a writer when I was younger and I am grateful for the life experience I have to draw on now.
Just like I’m grateful for sketchbooks full of average drawings and a crate full of lumpy pottery. They are the artifacts of my creative journey.
I am not perfect.
It is okay not to be perfect.
I cannot do everything (also known as, I do not have superpowers).
It is okay to ask for help.
Change (even really, really positive change) carries with it a certain amount of stress.
It is okay to ask for support.
In real life I can’t smooth out transitions from one chapter to the next and make them pretty the way I can in a novel.
Those messy little unfinished moments are part of life. It is okay to embrace them as part of my journey.