Thursday, May 9, 2013

Thinking Thursday: Following Your Passion

Anna June is interested in many things. She's good at climbing and athletics, she loves to do worksheets and practice her skills, she likes to cook and eat new things, she likes to make up stories and songs. She's inquisitive, and asks me the tough questions like, "Why don't we have a bigger house?"

This morning she made up a joke.

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Banana who?
Banana let us in it's cold outside.

She's doesn't quite get it. But that's OK. She's five.

I forget she's five. Sometimes I'm even annoyed that she's five. She hits some of the marks I think she should hit and misses some, too. Being able to get dressed in the morning is one of my big things with her right now - I know she's capable, but she's not motivated. At all. Today her class was heading to the zoo. She did decide she had to be there on time (the threat of the bus leaving without her and my not taking her kind of scared her). But she wanted me to help speed her along by telling her each step to do. We do the same seven things every morning. But she just needed me. Today, for the first time all week, I made it to do my hair and makeup before leaving the house. Pitiful, I know, but I spent 3 whole mornings threatening timeouts and picking her up to put her on the potty or putting her shirt on her while she whined and resisted.

All this being said, I know she is growing up too fast. These days will be gone in the blink of an eye, they say. I mean she'll be in kindergarten in a few months and then, before we know it, in middle school. She'll be studying Shakespeare and the quadratic equation. She'll be doing things I never would have dreamed of because they didn't exist when I was a kid.

I saw some students moving out of their dorms on UAB's campus today. I thought,  "That will be AJ very soon." The kid who got on "yellow" this week because she suddenly hated the song her class will sing in the end of the year program. My future self drove past me in a minivan with an Emory tag on the front stuffed with pillows, lamps, clothes and memories of an academic year.

This morning on NPR, I heard this story about a young man who wanted to follow his passion, but he had none in particular, so he asked some economists what he should pursue as his profession. He tried to give them data, but they still didn't have a good answer for him. The positive spin on it was that he could be anything he wanted. My take on it of course, was that, in the negative, if he didn't have a goal, how would he know when he reached it?

The questions posed by the economists to the young man were boiled down to "what is important to you?"

I have no idea what will be important to Anna June. Right now, she's interested in science and engineering, crafts, art, music, dance, and animals. I think she has the makings of a well-rounded individual.

At 35, I'm only starting to know what is important to me. The story made me start to wonder what I would do if I could do anything. Assuming I retire at age 49 from this current job and let someone else take over, what passion will I pursue? Will it be lucrative?

Of course, I will write. That is probably the only thing I have been consistently "passionate" about in my life. I can't stop. The more I write, the more I want to write. I am constantly drafting in my head, even, like now, when I am supposed to be doing other things. I want to write poetry, novels, memoir, stories. All of it. Every day. Nonstop.

But I want to have an office. I like it when people call and ask me things or stop by to check in. I like going out to lunch with people. I like leaving feeling like I did something today, even if it was just show someone where the pencil sharpener was or give directions to a certain building. Maybe I don't like working when there's a deadline. Maybe I just like doing people favors. Can one start a business service called "Favors" and not be mocked? I mean, I could refer people to other people I know. I could give them things they need. I could listen to their problems, which, mostly, is all people want. I could find things or come up with ideas for them to execute if they're stuck on something. I guess I wouldn't even charge for it if they are "favors."

So here's my plan: Retire. Rent office. Go there for a few hours every day to write and read. Then go out to lunch. Experience stuff. Volunteer. Think. Exercise. Focus. Take care of my family. Write some more. Go to bed.

What is your passion? Are you following it? 

I hope AJ grows up to know what hers is, and follows it. And I hope it makes money, too. Our house is too small for her to move back in after college.


Anonymous said...

Retire at 49????? LUCKEEE!! Why didn't anyone tell ME about those University jobs????

Seriously, I envy you your life plan , And hope that you get your office, and your charitable second career, and write your novel, and use all of your words. It all starts with a plan,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

? "

Laura Gallitz said...

Well, I don't know that it will happen. First of all, people around here tend to get laid off before they can retire. Secondly, AJ will be in college around that time and financially we may not be able to do it. Finally, I will probably have to have some source of income or we won't be able to pay for our house. So, at least I can dream.