I've stared at a computer screen far too long today. Unfortunately, most of the time I spent staring I spent screaming at myself in my head, "What are you doing with your life?!" Spending half of my life behind a desk, in one form another, be it work or school, has left me feeling how shall I say it?...Paralyzed?
When I was a kid I drew ballerinas with crayons that I plastered all over my grandma's fridge. I watched The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan about a million times a year. I played pretend. Then I when I turned eight, Kelly Zufelt, my Sunday school teacher, gave me my first journal. I wrote. And since then I've been writing. What it was about I suppose it mostly doesn't matter, fact or fiction, it's really all the same.
And though my career plans changed frequently from the time I was eight years old (artist, singer, doctor, lawyer or the like) until I finally landed on a major, in the end I was still creating...I was drawing. I was writing. I lived in a world full of tutu-ed, curly-haired ballerinas, crayola-drawn hearts and flowers, stuffed animals named Pooh, and fairies with green puff-ball slippers.
By the time I was 14 and a freshmen in high school, when it was popular to drop fancy words like "major" and "degree", I was already saying journalism was what I was going to do. I could write. And I could write well. English for me, was an automatic A. Plus, there was something glamorous about journalism -- think Lois Lane, pencil skirt, reporter's pad and pen behind her ear, running down the street -- an advocate for truth, crusader of honesty, her pen her gleaming, trusty sword.
Which brings me to the text conversation I had with my mom today:
H: When you were a senior in college did you look back on the last three years and think, 'What the hell did I do the last three years? And what in the world will I be doing of any value after this?'
M: Even worse...after I spent a year away from my family getting my credential...I still didn't really know how to teach kids to read...
H: Dang it. I feel like I'm staring down the barrel of a gun...the idea of doing this my whole life makes me feel sick...it just gives me no satisfaction. I love writing and I'm good at if but I feel like I'm in a miserable career w/ mostly miserable people doing nothing good for anyone and I hate it.
M: During my under grad I never really planned on doing anything...so I didn't have that frustration. But, when I started teaching I didn't think I would do it five years, yet alone long enough to retire. Most teachers are miserable, lazy people just looking forward to summer vacation.
(Great, Mom...thanks for the pep talk. I'm doomed to a miserable existence with miserable people. )
H: Hahaha! Is the whole human race a bunch of mindless, miserable fools doing the mundane just to fill there life? Where the hell is the joy?! The magic?! Where is the passion? Nowhere?!
H: That doesn't seem right.
(I knew my mother was a wise woman.)
M: That's where the joy, magic and wonder is...surely they use journalists!
Ya see...I think people have lost their joy. They've lost their child-like gumption for Pete's sake! We do lackluster jobs without any kind of excitement, passion or anticipation. We stare at computers, figuring numbers, adjusting the spellings of words and the placements of commas...and for what? Is anyone saved? Is a life made easier? Is a smile created? Does Lois Lane's noble crusade for honesty and truth triumph in justice? Maybe. But more often I think it's not the case. Instead of doing what we love and loving what we do, we roll our eyes at each other and fight over petty mistakes like imagined offenses and supposed stupidity of others.
I'm sure if my younger dream-creating, Pooh-and-Pan-watching, Louis-inspired self met me today...she'd be semi-disappointed. I've lost a bit of my joy, my excitement and passion.
Okay, all-knowing-mother...when's the trip to Disneyland?