I believe I am incomplete. And in the vacancy that lies within I find comfort in knowing that a whole world is out there to fill that space. As a child, I bounced from one activity to another, never settling in on one that was characteristically “me”. By college I had sealed my identity by changing majors four times before graduation. Then, I reveled in exploring the great big professional salad bar of life. I spent the better part of my career looking for a new career—a music teacher, a mediator, a fundraiser, a landscape designer and a stay at home mother, to name a few. I sought income from hobbies in an attempt to stave off the boredom and dread I saw in my contemporaries as they limped off to their jobs every day. My personal and professional goals remained intertwined to inform each decision along the way—firing up an inextinguishable craving to try something new.
Back in the 90’s while working a particularly uninspiring job, I discovered one day that my soul had been sapped right out of me like the last few drops from the bottom of a smoothie cup. I took action by starting Landscape courses at a local University. Doubling the length of my days and tripling my mileage, it was the hardest I’d worked to achieve happiness. But it worked. I fell in love with my new vocation.
It was soon called into question when I was offered a substantially higher paying but similarly barren job before completing the program. It earnestly promised to further goals I didn’t hold anymore. And in return guaranteed longer hours and the certainty that I’d never finish my courses. I waffled. Although dollar signs were obstructing the obvious, I came to my senses in time. It occurred to me that, with no children, no financial burdens and no one else to please but myself I was poised to take a flying leap…and to tell them to do the same. I got a job in a Landscape Architectural firm for less pay, instead—trading money for new skills, creativity and the chance to put a hobby to work. I never regretted it.
Ten years later, it’s ancient history. No longer working, I suffer from chronic back pain now, which has closed a tight loop around my physical abilities. The attraction towards an isolated, sedentary life is like gravity drawing me downwards. I catch myself wrapped in a tight bundle in front of the TV and sometimes wish I could stay there forever. But if I surrender myself, each new day will follow like drones under a spell. Instead, I attempt to find the solitary treasures—to write this essay, to finish my book, to play a new instrument, to take that class. Woven together as a means of negotiating my restricted life, they form a first-class filler for the soul.
I am incomplete. And I believe there could be nothing better than finding new ways to achieve the unachievable—completeness.
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