When I came down in the morning I didn’t know where Dawn was, the coffee was brewed but she wasn’t in her office or the bathroom and for a moment I imagined her crying, in the dark—but she was just sitting there, said she’d taken my advice and wasn’t going to start her day with the news, was going to sit there and see what comes, instead. Dawn used to identify as an artist and still does I think—she had story ideas she wrote at length but abandoned as she moved into the breadwinner slot and we moved to Europe, and she had to support her flako-artist husband, me.
And I thought about that as I walked to the lake and stood there looking out, thinking the possibilities for art are there for you if you’re open to them and learn how to coax it out, the same as any other kind of work, it’s another place to show up and do your best.
When I was distraught before I left Starbucks and knew I’d gone astray I met with a former colleague who tried to get me back on the right path, but when she asked what my dream job was if I could do anything at all, I didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing.
She asked if I’d ever seen the Walter Mitty film and I hadn’t, and when we flew to Germany that summer to visit my mom I did, and I considered the parallels in my own job and life, how I flickered in and out of who I thought I was or could be.
I hired a career coach this year and drafted a plan I reviewed with him last night: starting with my brand and values, what kind of people I want to work with…and as I walked back from the lake, I thought we have more control over our lives than we think, though sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.
When I started looking for work last summer I couldn’t discipline myself to make a plan, it was so open-ended I felt paralyzed. It seemed easier to drift into whatever came my way, as if I could just rely on fate or karma or whatever—that instead of taking the time to make a plan I could resign myself to whatever came, to go with the flow. But doing that leads to places you may not want.
That summer we flew to Germany for a couple weeks, Dawn and the kids flew over first, for a week before I arrived. Germany made it to the World Cup finals and then won while we were there; the kids wore hats with the colors of the German flag, it all seemed meant to be.
I’d been bad about buying summer clothes for myself in the past (because what’s the point, in Seattle), but that summer I took the time to get some new ones and took over a few pairs of shorts and nice shirts, and when it was time to leave, and we flew back, I realized I’d left them there by accident and thought shit, here we had just another month of summer and all my clothes were back in Germany—but we knew we wanted to return and stay longer, and when we did a year later they were waiting for me, still brand new, unwashed, and I had no idea what I would do next really, just that I’d take some time to think about it, to write and travel, to be with my mom and family—and we contemplated business opportunities (like how we could parlay it into something else)—but I’m glad we did as we did with no other plans or expectations. Some things (like your future) you need to plan; others, like your present, you just need to enjoy.