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Friday, March 11, 2005


Passion tease

I have now lost my work ID twice within a period of a month, and then earlier this week I lost the card that gives me access to my company's parking garage. Yesterday I was 20 minutes late to work because after leaving late (something I almost always do - in high school I was a straight-A student who got detention for always being late to first period), I had to find street parking, and then made it to the front door of my building before realizing I'd left my glasses in the car, so back I went.

And when I hear myself talking lately, I realize I'm rambling more often than not -- words rushing to keep up with a rushing brain and stumbling instead of keeping pace. In my job, I am quickly becoming everything I never wanted to be: in a constant state of tending to crises, never able to carve out enough time to advance the issues I care about. And the thing is, I'm bad in a crisis. I'm also bad at multi-tasking and being patient with uninteresting details. What I'm good at is seeing the proverbial forest for the trees, at taking rough ideas and giving them polish and sheen. After a while of not getting to do what you're good at, you start to feel pretty bad about yourself.

Last night I re-read an essay I wrote a couple of years ago, and I thought, "this is really good." Not Pulitizer Prize-winning good, but well-written, and something I think other people would find interesting. It's personal but not self-obsessesed, thoughtful but not precious, specific while addressing larger, universal themes of religion, family, faith, love. Why isn't it "out there"? Why am I not pursuing publication beyond this space, where I think I say some worthwhile things, but I'm not reaching a wide audience -- ? After a while, you want your main interaction with the world to consist of doing things that reflect your best self.

It's hard to know what's realistic, what's possible -- so many people make a living one way, and pursue their art "on the side." (There's a local organization that is based on this very principle.) I don't think I'm made that way. Maybe it's just that my current job offers the potential for creativity, and proximity to artistic expression, but the potential gets overwhelmed by the daily rush, and the proximity is still too far. Maybe, until you can make a living doing what you love, it's better to make a living doing something that doesn't tease your passions. I don't want to let go of idealism, or accept other people's versions of adult life as the only available options, but still, it would be nice to know that magic formula for turning ideals into reality.

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