25 January, 2006

For Love Or Money

Jason has written a very bare and honest piece about his career. He's one of the few people I know who is able to make money doing what he loves. I've given much thought to his piece, and was going to comment over there. Instead, I think I'll try to place my half-shaped thoughts here, because it fits with the theme of my blog. (Wait a minute? This blog has a theme? Yes, yes it does.)

I love stories. I love to read them, to tell them, to hear them from other people. Someday I hope to make money writing stories, but that's a dream realised by a rare few. I don't kid myself that I will make the top of that mountain, but the striving is fun so I don't always mind. I've always had a "real job" in the process because I also love eating, driving, having teeth. I've heard that same golden career nugget from Dave Ramsey, from my 7th grade guidance counselor and from freelance writers' articles in the Reader's Digest. Yes, it seems obvious. If you can do what you love you will have a good career.

I thought about that one day three years ago as I stood over a copier with a stack of artist contracts. Obviously "what I love" has never included negotiating some painter down to a X% royalty on their picture of a Christmas Tree. Yet that's what I did for a long time. I've also been a travel agent, a bookkeeper, a Marketing Specialist (you may know it better as "secretary in the Marketing Department.") No, it's not following my bliss or carpeing the diem. But it's like the lives of most people I know. What we love is our families, our homes, our dinners with friends. So we learn to love what we do because it enables us, at the end of the day, to be who we are. Wives, Husbands, parents, members of a community.

A few years ago--not long after the copier incident--I started to realise that in a bizarre way I WAS doing what I loved. Sitting in the lunchroom day after day, hearing the very personal stories of the lives of my coworkers and their children was very much doing what I loved. No, I wasn't sitting at my desk banging away the Great Katherinian Novel. But I was learning how other people experience the marriage of their daughter, the death of their mother from Alzheimer's. The falling in love with a coworker, adopting a baby from Romania. I consider it a real blessing that I was able to find what I love within what I do. I think everyone can do that. And even if they can't, they can take pride in providing a life for themselves and the people they love.


At 8:21 AM, January 26, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes! You nailed it!

Something about that whole "follow your bliss" approach to work has always bothered me. I'm really happy for all those people who have jobs that they'd do even if they didn't get paid for it. But what if everybody took that approach? How many garbage men, janitors, receptionists, cashiers and drive through window operators would there be? How well would society work if everyone was off pursuing their dream? What about all the spouses who end up having to work two mundane jobs so that there can be food on the table while dearest is off playing Peter Pan?

I've had a lot of jobs in my life. Some of them pleasant and fun, some of them not so much. But I believe that God has led me into each one, not because they were deeply fulfilling but because they played a part in making me into the person that I'm meant to be. Working the night shift sorting mail at the post office was never part of my dream, but it taught me the value of doing whatever it takes to provide for my family. Spending weeks away from that family flying around the world to work with clients was difficult and draining at times, but I learned skills and gained experiences that prepared me to do work that I do enjoy.

I believe that God has a path for each of us, and I think it would be arrogant to turn our noses up at a particular carreer path simply because a particular job isn't some glorified hobby. Discover what you enjoy. Pursue what makes you happy. That's all fine. But there's also something to be said for growing up, embracing responsibility and realizing that sometimes a job is just a means to an end. Recess is over, get back to class!


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