Well son, what do you want to do with your life?
I am now at a point where I have to make some rather serious decisions about my life. And it is with these sort of questions that I am at my very best and my very worst. I obsess over them–I consult everyone–I consider every possible angle. I write best in these moods. I take time for reflection. The menial and trivial seem to slide away. But I also get down. The signs of futility start to spring up. The inevitable indulgence in despair is one I rarely pass up. “What if with all this thought–all this effort–I end up just degrees from where I’d be if I’d let it all go?” “What if control is just an illusion?” Some of this is outside Rudius, some of this is about which position inside Rudius.
For me, I’ve always told myself: whatever you want to do, that’s what you’ll end up doing. What happens when someone offers you that chance? Do you have an answer ready? I keep coming up blank. “What do I want to do?”
So I decided to break it down in smaller questions. What do I like? Well, I this blog. I like expressing myself. I like predicting what will happen and making moves to be there before everyone else. But I also like leaving when that gets boring. Let others sort out the details; I like the big picture. I like money. I like the feeling of fluid mastery–of the point guard taking the ball from right to left and then spinning as someone reachs in for it. The move that no one sees coming, but meticulously planned. And more than that, I like work. Sometimes, during the day, I fantasize about running until I vomit, wiping my mouth and running some more.
What don’t I like? Well, I hate office shit. I hate being constrained and having to run every little idea through other people. I hate waiting. I hate busy work. I hate having to tolerate people who social inertia has forced me to tolerate. I hate the Peter Principle. I hate the feeling of ripping people off, of delivering what they’ll accept as opposed to what they deserve. I hate school and I’m thinking about quitting. I hate the idea that what you do and who you are must to be entirely separate things.
What do I need? I need time. I need an understanding that creativity must be nurtured–and that almost everything is secondary to its incubation. Someone who comprehends that the war for talent in a service economy will be a costlier engagement than any that have come before it.
In the end, I’m sure a lot of you have the exact same desires. And some of the despondency comes from realizing that most jobs pretend they don’t exist. The idea that the level of bullshit is at its highest in high school and declines the further you move from it is sadly untrue. I see the same shit I hated in people now, that I did when I was 11.
So those of you who have already made this decision: What advice can you offer? Those of you who are making it now: What steps are you taking?
I’m reading a book by Ken Robinson right now and one line has been echoing in my head “Being good at something isn’t enough reason to do it for the rest of your life.” Penelope Trunk wrote a few months ago that you ought to figure out EXACTLY what you want and demand it from your job. The only thing you have to lose is unhappiness and an ill-fit. Machiavelli wrote that fortune must be thrown down and struggled with, that opportunity can be molded to your whim. But first–as is the current dilemma–the whim must be discovered and defined. I feel like I am closer, yes, but not close enough.