I was talking with one of my seasonal co-workers at the florist yesterday morning, getting to know one another a little bit. She got laid off from her accounting job in December. Flowers has been her one indulgence her whole life. A little something that brightens her day and lifts her mood. Her dream job, she told me, was to work in a florist! Yet, she never had up until this point (she's about 35 years old).
She went on to say she was cutting ribbons the day before, to be tied to helium balloons and it struck her that she was the happiest she'd been in a long time, while working anyway. Maybe ever. Then she told me she was going to look for a new accounting job after this Valentine's Day week.
I see this behavior, this choice, all the time. People stick in a certain career track because that's what they got their degree in, or because that's what they've done for ten or twenty or thirty years. Sure, they don't like it. Sure, they would rather be doing any number of other things. But they stick with it. Why?
People are "attached" to their identity. Not just who they think they are, but who they think others see them as. And our jobs are a big part of our identity in our culture. What you do defines you, to a large extent. There are "professional" jobs, "blue collar" jobs, "temporary" jobs. An accountant, for example, is viewed as more professional, more educated, and "higher up" than a florist. It's our society.
But I say, "So what?"
Yeah, becoming an accountant, or a doctor, or even a teacher requires more education than becoming a florist, restaurant server, or substitute teacher. The first three jobs will pay you more money. Typically come with benefits. Paid vacation days. The latter three jobs are paid hourly, often don't offer benefits, and if you don't work, you don't get paid. There is a difference. But to live your whole life basing your decision on what to do for work on how far up the ladder a given job is, I just don't understand that.
There is more to life than living within the confines of society's notions of "value." What do you value? What do you want to spend your precious time doing? What makes you happy, makes your heart sing, your spirit soar? Let that be your guide. Not "society."
The Tao encourages being flexible. The ego is rigid and pompous. The Tao is bending, flexible, and unassuming. I'd like to encourage everyone to be flexible in how they view their identity.
The chapter of Wayne Dyer's book, "Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life," that I reread my journal entry for today talked about being "empty." Empty of attachments. Those beliefs, possessions, or ideas that you attach yourself to. That you believe are your identity. They're not you.
By being empty, free from those attachments, you open yourself up to all possibilities. How exciting is that?!
When you're already "full," there's no room for new and possibly better things to come into your life. If you're hell bent on sticking in a certain job or field, you may be missing a career that brings you to life and makes you happier than you ever thought a job could. If you're steadfast in playing a certain role (such as "responsible," "caretaker," "activist") you may be missing other aspects of your personality that enable you to be more fully YOU.
I'm not saying to shirk all responsibilities here and run off and join the circus. Unless, of course, your life's dream is to be in the circus, then in that case...
Kidding aside, the important thing is to be you. Be all of you. If there's a passion within you, stop pushing it down. Stop ignoring it. Stop telling yourself, "I can't do that because _____."
All growing up I had wanted to be a waitress. That wasn't the only thing I wanted to do, and it wasn't my lifelong dream career, but I thought the job looked appealing. I don't know why, but it's how I felt. When I left one of my attempts at making teaching work for me, I took a semester away from the school systems entirely. There was a new restaurant opening near my home. And they were hiring. All new staff. It was the perfect opportunity!
I went in, applied, and got hired. I worked as a server at that restaurant for about three months. That was enough for me. Enough to satisfy that desire and enough to see I didn't want to do it any longer.
I loved it at first. And I'm very glad I did it. It made me a much better and more aware tipper! But just as I got out of teaching when I knew it wasn't for me, I left my job as a server when I realized it wasn't what I wanted to do anymore. I moved on to my next heart's calling.
To be "empty" is to be free. To be present.
"The Tao isn't trying to get someplace other than where it is. It has no goals, no desire, no judgments; it flows everywhere because it is the energy of creation. To be in harmony with the Tao is to be free of goals, immersed in all that you're doing without concern about the outcome - just noticing each moment and allowing yourself to flow with the creative source that's energizing everything and everyone in the universe. When you live in this way, failure becomes an impossibility. How can you fail at being yourself and trusting completely in the wisdom of the Source of everything? Everything you do succeeds." (Dyer)
Now that's what I'm talking about!
Be you! Failing at that is impossible!
Quotes of the Day:
"In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure." (Bill Cosby)
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." (Bill Cosby)
"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat." (Theodore Roosevelt)