Yesterday in a Christmas e-mail exchange, I told a former corporate executive and mentor about my blog. After he scanned it, he responded, “You have too much time on your hands. You need a job.”
Are You Serious?
I could only think:
a) I need a rest, not a job.
b) I had a big job until last February, and he knew it. He was my boss for part of it.
c) He also knew about my crazy year, and had just sent a friendly e-mail on the subject of moving to assisted living.
Still, he said, “You need a job.”
What Is Deemed Worthy, and by Whom?
I’ve read for years about artists getting this sort of reaction, disguised as humour but indicating negative judgment about how they spend their time.
Julia Cameron expresses this brilliantly in The Artist’s Way, a book that had a profound effect on me when I discovered it in 1996. As a corporate manager, I still benefited from learning how to clarify my goals and dreams, take appropriate action, and trust in the Universe for support.
When I left the corporate world, everyone asked, “So what are you doing with all your free time?” The You-Should’ers in particular made many suggestions about what to do next.
My observation is certain activities are considered worthy:
· volunteering of almost any sort — especially anything church-related
As happened in my case, family emergencies and caring for relatives is worthy:
· moving someone to assisted living
· clearing their house
· managing their affairs
The Elusive Writing Life
When I left the business world, I said I wanted to read, write, and travel more; explore new places with Clive; and spend more time in Paris. My priorities changed in May, when my mother was hospitalised, and I feel blessed I was able to devote much of my time and energy to her this year.
Once again fate or divine guidance supported me in ways I never imagined. Leaving work gave me the precious gift of time, just when I needed it most.
The desire to write more went to the back burner, but I did start a blog to express some of what I was feeling. I squeezed in writing time, as I know many writers (and bloggers) do, whenever and wherever I could.
Making Choices, Balancing Expectations
In due course I may choose to contribute to a volunteer organisation, or other worthy causes. I also want to write more, play the piano more, and, as always, spend more time in Paris.
I know it’s important not to live too much by the expectations and value judgments of others. It’s important to make our own choices, be confident in them, and keep changing and growing as life goes on.
One of my favourite expressions, which I only learned a few years ago, is ‘what other people think of me is none of my business.’
When my former boss said “You need a job,” I thought: is this what I have to look forward to? Now that I’m out of the big corporate job and my mother is settled in her new home, will I hear more of, “You should be doing something worthwhile”?
Freedom from the corporate hamster wheel does at times feel luxurious and even decadent. My inner critic occasionally joins the outside crowd asking me just exactly what I’m doing with my time, and is it worthy?
My choices are worthy to me, and I know I can learn a lot from other writers and artists pursuing their dreams. I’m happy with my choices, and understand others in my situation may make different ones.
As I’ve read many times, writers are people who write – and that’s what I’m doing.
I thought I was a long way from the ‘writing life’ as I envisioned it, some near-perfect environment in which there’s always time to think and write. Maybe I’m closer to the real writing life (whatever that is) after all.
I decided to claim yesterday’s comment as a gift, my first acknowledgement and validation that I’m actually writing. I must be, to have someone say, in effect, you should be doing something else.
My response to my former colleague was, “Watch out. I’m also going to write a book.”
Filed under: My Journey |